Why this poem? An answer by artist Meghan Keane:
What grabbed me about this poem was its obvious double entendre. It’s not just about sailing a ship…. What Dickinson achieves in the poem is akin to what my artistic practice strives to do: transform details from everyday life (ED: ships, MK:hair, whiteout) into subtle yet exquisite, borderline seductive experiences. Visceral, even. This drawing of curly hair (pubes? possibly. possibly not.) interspersed with whiteout fragments is one example of this curious approach. Although abstract, my work typically relates to the body and often conveys a pent up bodily energy.
For me, art is making something transform from what is expected to what is unexpected and complex and beautiful (even if it’s dark and haunting); that process is tactile, using the body as a tool for manipulating materials, and it’s deeply pleasurable. When finished, the art often expresses this pleasure in making. I felt this poem by Dickenson was really going towards that sort of multiple interpretations of “pleasure in making” as well. Her poem (for me) is not simply about creating a beautiful poem about sensual pleasure; Dickenson celebrates the “luxury” in wild letting go that is part of all varieties of human creativity—artistic creativity included.