The Master Letters opens with “Carrowmore,” a decorous, restrained lyric about a girl finding an ornament and a piece of hair—two offerings, she surmises, to a dead predecessor—in the earth:

She buried her bone barrette

In the ground’s woolly shaft.
A tear of her hair, an old gift

To the burnt other who went
First. My thick braid, my ornament—

My belonging I
Remember how cold I will be.

In terms of style, however, “Carrowmore” is not an augur of things to come in this book-long tribute to Emily Dickinson. Many of Brock-Broido’s poems—her title comes from three letters Dickinson left in her drawer at her death, one addressed to “Recipient Unknown” and two to “Master”—are composed in a sinewy, ornate language that recalls...


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