Spring 2004

The   Elizabeth   Bishop   Bulletin

Volume 11, Number 1          “All the untidy activity continues…”            Spring 2004

Bishop in Cancun

Angus Cleghorn, Seneca College & Trent University

International scholars and poets gathered for the Elizabeth Bishop and Her Worlds symposium in Mexico from December 11-14, 2003. While Bishop’s life and art do not feature Cancun, the location at the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental — with its iguanas, gardens, palms, beach and sea — was an environment that inspired lively discussion about Bishop and poetry. Tequila shots by the pool at the opening reception make for a free-flowing conference. All of the sessions were followed by engaging discussion. My take on events contains interpretive idiosynchrasies and reductions, for which I apologize.

The first panel, “Tropical Epistemologies,” set the tone for a conference that focused on Bishop’s ethical mappings. Bethany Hicok delved into Bishop’s Florida experience and writings as a source of sexual liberation and personal disclosure. Charles Berger and I traversed Bishop’s exploration of the other in Brazil: Charles described how Bishop collided epic models with ethical revisions. Her quest was that of the questioner, her poems suspended between beholding and standing back from her phenomena; I charted Bishop’s various positions of ethical agency from ports to interior geographies that increasingly vexed the poet’s role there. Both of us recognized that Bishop, despite her efforts to learn about Brazil’s history and people, cultivated a moral distance. Alan Soldofsky suggested to me that, for Bishop, perhaps too much disclosure would’ve led to appropriation, and therefore Bishop maintained her distance from confessional poetics.

Jeffrey Gray similarly addressed Bishop’s travel writings, noting that her work destabilizes  traditional notions of the postcolonial gaze. Gray illustrated Bishop’s textual disturbances of monocultural images, which came partially out of her reading Levi-Strauss in Brazil. Barbara Page brought us up to date on the status of Bishop’s travel prose writings, which Page is re-editing in Brazil — a project that will lead to a new CD-Rom that will enliven our understanding of Brazilian culture observed by the poet.Thomas Travisano, the conference organizer, reada paper submitted by Sonia Brook from Russia, who couldn’t make the distant journey. Brook’s paper illustrated the global reach of Bishop’s scholars, who have by now met for conferences at Key West, Vassar, Great Village, Worcester, Acadia University, Ouro Preto, Cleveland, Newcastle and Reading, England, as well as Paris, Lyon and Cancun. Where next?

Carol Frost and Priscilla Paton discussed Bishop’s animals. Carol focusing on Bishop’s first trip to Key West in 1936, which helped her develop her poetic inner eye, which adeptly amalgamated flowers and fish. Bishop’s imagination was largely formed by her childhood interaction with animals, which Priscilla Paton illustrated through Mary Midgley’s  use of the theory of neotony: a study of the affinity and imprint that animals make upon children. These bonds become marginalized by the adult world of abjection. Paton showed through works such as “The Country Mouse,” “In the Waiting Room” and “In the Village” that Bishop retains and amalgamates youthful links to the animalistic world. Such returns to primitive experience can lead to inverted experiences suggesting surrealism, which was the topic of Jacqueline Vaught Brogan’s paper on Bishop’s “Proto-Dream House.” Brogan argued that domestic spaces, houses,” contain and re-inscribe cultural scripts whereas “home” indicates a freedom to which we strive, and for which Bishop never rests.

All that on the first full day! Each day was capped by Monique Fowler’s “One Atlantic,“ a play based on the correspondence of Bishop and Robert Lowell, semi-staged by  Fowler and Travisano, with help  from  Laura Menides.

After late poetry readings on Friday night, Saturday morning began with Bishop’s influence on other poets. Luke Carson talked about the “bad manners” of James Merrill’s poem “Scattering of Salts,” based on his pilgrimmage to Nova Scotia and discovery of Bishop’s rural anachronisms. Carson compared Merrill’s approach to the embarrassment Bishop shows toward Marianne Moore’s anachronistic morality. Anne Shifrer found similarities between Bishop and P. K. Page, both of whose wealth limits their ability to understand Brazil. Shifrer, as with Priscilla Paton and Jeffrey Gray, finds Bishop’s admission of (Kristevan) abjection in poetry as a way to disturb the borders of civilized society. Bishop’s “Burglar of Babylon” and “Pink Dog,” as well as Page’s “Brazilian House” and “Macumba: Brazil,” unsettle the repression of defilement (Kantian) by projecting human bodies as dirty, yet able to exchange waste for purification, as does the sea, and carnival. Continuing with feminist inquiries into the difficult areas of self and other, Kirstin Hotelling Zona located Bishop and Jorie Graham at the nexus of current studies in modern poetry, wherein poets’ ethics distrust confession and self-consciousness, and therefore depict a crisis of agency: “my first poem is hidden”  says Graham in Swarm. Yet Graham also exhibits the big hunger typical of American poetry since Whitman. Seemingly stuck at this juncture in poetics, scholars continue to make use of the philosophical ethics of Emmanuel Levinas.

Jason Miller discussed Langston Hughes’ lynching poems as a site in which poetry sifts the waste of our history, as in “The Bitter River.” In his poetry, Hughes combats racial persecution in a way that could not be done in the legal system of his society. In so doing, Hughes demonstrates that nature, for an African-American lyricist, is anti-pastoral, a place of fear as Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” illustrates. Bishop’s chronotopes, her poems situated in natural settings across history, also trace processes of defilement, waste and hopeful revivification. Brett Millier presented Chelsea 8 as a 1950s magazine that exhibited politics as it turned inward in the United States. Bishop was tabled with  Lowell, Levertov, Olson, Garrigue and Paz, thereby indicating a collection of poets from different schools sharing similar concerns.

Alan Soldofsky traced Bishop’s search for independence from her famous mentor as reflected in the diction of her poem, “Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore.“ Susan Rosenbaum explored the way Bishop’s focus on artistic miniatures expand out and engage with. Laura Menides suggested the relation for Bishop between a poetry responding to painting and a poetry engaging, if indirectly, with ideas. Jonathan Ellis argued for the independent aesthetic value of Bishop’s letters. Pat Marshall offered at detailed study of the historical background and importance for her development of Bishop’s partial translation, while a Vassar student, of Aristophanes’ “The Birds.“ Lisa Smorto explored the “strange irrelevancy“ of  places implied by  names in Bishop’s poems.

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Paton

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Paton

The ocean lurked as subtext through the conference and outside the hotel, so it was fitting that Ross Leckie discuss the oceanic sublime. In this imaginative structure Bishop integrated fishermen and seals as sublime agents who could lead to infinite musings, as the islands illustrate in “Crusoe in England.” These islands Leckie identifies with the metonymic sublime — contiguous, yet a context that falls away, resembling vertigo. Similarly, “Santarem” and “The Monument” involve this dialectic of presence and absence where the sweepings of the day hold cages of infinity. The same dialectic arose, but on a more personal level, as Bishop’s closet drama regarding poetry readings. Kamran Javadizadeh focused on a public reading shared with James Merrill, in which Bishop masked and unmasked the speaker while reading “Crusoe in England.” Crusoe’s nightmares of infinity, until Friday came, call for imprisonment, or at least a body to live in, thereby echoing the Proto-Dream House discussed by Brogan. Bishop’s poetry exhibits the conflicting desires of wanting to make islands breathe while still concealing herself. In her refusal to be exemplary she remains so.

Bishop Panel, 2003 ALA Conference

Betty Jean Steinshouer, St. Petersburg, Florida

The afternoon panel on Elizabeth Bishop at the American Literature Association’s meeting in Cambridge on May 22, 2003, was, fittingly, poetry as well as prose, thanks to the presence on the panel of two fine poets, one American and one Canadian, who are among our foremost Bishop scholars.

Laura Menides, keeper of Bishop’s Worcester heritage, chaired the panel, bringing poetry in motion to an afternoon of segues among three equally brilliant but diverse minds and the papers they devised. Sandra Barry, the Canadian on the panel, chose to express in poetry her study of the Bishop family’s journeys to the “Boston States,” an old Maritime expression referring to New England, used by Bishop’s ancestors and even more recently by Nova Scotians of Barry’s parents’ generation. Barry’s narrative poem was a fresh approach to the problem of containing a huge amount of material within the format of a 10- or 15-minute paper.  She dedicated her litany to the memory of Muir MacLachlan, who died this year, and was probably the last person in Great Village who knew Bishop as a child. Bishop mentioned him humorously in “Primer Class,”  mistaking his name for “manure,” a word of great familiarity to a little girl who had never known anyone named Muir.  As Barry read the poem she had written to encompass some of Bishop’s family heritage, phrases like “the unreclaimable past” and “new ideas forged from molten iron”  were poignant in reflecting on Bishop’s descriptions of “life and the memory of it.”

Barry’s study of the Bulmers, traced back to before William the Conquerer, and the Bishop’s and Hutchinson’s, traced “beyond memory,” is rich in “weavers, farmers, carpenters, tanners, seamstresses, gardeners, healers, cooks” and also “judges, deacons and politicians with obedient or not so obedient wives”  and  of course artists, “her affinity was always with the the artists . . . writers, translators, painters, orators . . . who appeared and vanished, because that is what artists do.”  As one poet writing about another would naturally say, Barry wrote of the Hutchinson-Bulmer-Bishop family journeys:  “the sea is the first highway.”  She named the boats they took and later the “unk-etty” train and “the to and fro in early Fords and Chevrolets,” and the “long bus limbo” between Great Village and Boston, only flying “if you have to.”  The mostly American audience was delighted while listening to Barry much as they would have been if she had been reading Bishop’s litany of her own journey toward “The Boston States” in “The Moose.”

The prose parts of the panel were no less impressive.  Gary Fountain and Tom Travisano’s papers juxtaposed Bishop with two poets: William Carlos Williams and Robert Lowell. Fountain drew parallels between Bishop’s comforting poem, “The Moose” and Williams’ bitter “To Elsie,”  resulting in a fascinating display of contrasts.  From Williams’ “pure products of America,” including “deaf-mutes, thieves. . . devil-may-care men who have taken to railroading out of sheer lust of adventure” to Bishop’s “narrow provinces of fish and bread and tea,”  with “rows of sugar maples” and “a lone traveller” giving “kisses and embraces to seven relatives.”

The moose wandering in front of Bishop’s bus with its quiet, calm driver is “grand” and “otherwordly,”  giving all the passengers a “sweet sensation of joy.”  In Williams’ process of “expressing with broken brain the truth about us,” he shows “degraded prisoners destined to hunger until we eat filth while the imagination strains after deer going by fields of goldenrod in the stifling heat of September.”  Bishop’s scene of “moonlight and mist” has a man’s voice assuring the passengers “Perfectly harmless.”  Although her “indrawn yes . . . half groan, half acceptance,” reminds us that “Life’s like that, we know it (also death)”, it is always safe to fall asleep, on the bus or in the old featherbed, secure in the knowledge that “somebody loves us all.”  But in Williams there is no comfort, no rest, “No one to witness/no one to drive the car.”

As the final speaker on the panel, Travisano read from the latest of his many contributions to Bishop studies — editing and arranging the upcoming volume of 470 letters between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop during their 30-year friendship from 1947 to 1977.   His selections particularly highlighted the remarkable ways in which their relationship served both poets.  The only serious taint was broached in a question about Lowell’s appropriation of the personal lives and letters of two women he loved named Elizabeth, and whether it was tantamount to William Carlos Williams’ use of unsung poet Marcia Nardi’s letters to him, without credit, in forming the female narrative voice in Paterson.

Travisano pointed out that although Bishop was hardly victimized by Lowell in the way that Nardi felt Williams had robbed from her in a sexist and invasive manner, a severe strain developed between Bishop and Lowell in the 1970s, when Lowell used some of Elizabeth Hardwick’s letters to him in The Dolphin.  Bishop was extremely disappointed with Lowell, since he had earlier appropriated details from her own story of her mother’s scream and so on, and their letters became strained during the final years of Lowell’s life.  This is one example of the valuable perspectives contained in this volume, tracing a long friendship between two brilliant but troubled poets.  It will be a welcome volume to One Art, especially with Travisano’s annotations.

The packed room at the Hyatt Regency was slow to empty at the end of the session, testament to the pure pleasure of listening to four scholars who have devoted many years to Bishop study.  Cambridge gatherings have the added possibility that a few of Bishop’s old friends or students from her teachings days at Harvard will attend.  This year’s event was enriched by the presence of Kathleen Spivak, Lloyd Schwartz, and Frank Bidart.  The excitement generated by the panel lasted throughout the ALA weekend.

Bishop Society of Nova Scotia Update

Sandra Barry, President

On 14 June 2003 the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia held its Annual General Meeting in the Legion Hall in Great Village, N.S. Twenty-six members and guests were present. After the usual business was attended to (reports read and officers/board elected), there was a discussion about the need for Society fundraising. One of the principal reasons to do so is the desire of the Society to erect an outdoor display about Elizabeth Bishop’s time in Great Village, in conjunction with the Great Village Historical Society. Discussions have been on-going about what kind of display and where it should be located. The hope is that it will consist of a weather-proof panel based on the Society’s popular brochure and will be erected near the Wilson’s service station (across the road from Bishop’s grandparents’ home).

It was decided that the first fund-raising event would be a raffle. We are truly fortunate to have as the prize for this raffle a stone sculpture created by well-known local sculptor Heather Lawson. Heather attended the AGM and gave a presentation about her work and studio, Raspberry Bay Stone, which is located in Bass River, N.S. She kindly agreed to donate a sculpture which she is creating especially for the raffle. A lottery license was finally obtained in September and tickets are being printed. The draw will take place in Great Village on 1 July 2004, during the Canada Day celebrations. If anyone is interested in this raffle, contact Sandra Barry at slbarry@ns.sympatico.ca.

The other item of interest to make note of is that Nexus Media Inc. has begun filming a half-hour documentary which focuses on Elizabeth Bishop’s connection to Great Village. Many of the villagers are volunteering behind and in front of the camera. It is due to be broadcast first on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, then Bravo, and finally, Book Television, and we’ll get the word out when that is to take place.

The date for the 2004 Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting has not yet been set, but will be sometime early in June.

Bishop Session at SSAWW
in Fort Worth

Jason Miller, Washington State University

For the first time, four papers on Bishop were presented in affiliation with the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. This international conference featured a session chaired by Camille Roman entitled “Elizabeth Bishop and the Vassar Experience” which took place on September 26, 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas. The session focused on Bishop’s Vassar connections highlighting the impact of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry and exploring Bishop’s affiliation with Billie Holiday.  A discussion took place after the presentations emphasizing the need to continue to explore Bishop’s other circles formed in places such as Key West and Nova Scotia.

Bethany Hicok (Wesminster College) presented “Defining Art in the 1930s: Bishop and Her Rebel Sisters at Vassar.”  Read within a context in which monumentalism and Marxism serve as two of the literary and political dilemmas of the 1930s, Bishop’s “The Monument”  offers a view into the fluidity of canonicity by offering a hand made object which resists easy interpretation.  As such, Hicock’s work reminds us that this poem offers important commentary on the issue of canonicity, something Bishop and her readers must continually watch closely.

In “Bishop and Edna St. Vincent Millay,” Cheryl Walker (Scripps College) reminded listeners that despite today’s waning respect for Millay, Bishop liked Millay’s poetry more than Marianne Moore’s work during her time at Vassar. The influence of Millay on Bishop was considered by examining two lines which hold compelling similarities.  Walker compared a final line from one of Millay’s poems with the final line of Bishop’s villanelle, “One Art.”  Where Millay writes “As Mr. S (oh, answer!) never would” Bishop pens “though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”

Camille Roman (Washington State University) explored the triangle which existed between three women in her presentation entitled “Billie Holiday and Other Stars: Bishop with Louise Crane.”  Identifying a connection which few knew existed, Holiday’s importance to Bishop is significant because Crane left Bishop to follow Holiday around the country.  In this context, Bishop wrote “Songs for a Colored Singer”  thinking of Holiday as both a fan and rival.  Roman’s presentation also cited the need for further studies which would consider Bishop’s “night life” as much as her “day life” in order to construct a fuller narrative of the poet’s life.

Placing an ecocritical riff on Bishop’s baroque style, Jason Miller’s (Washington State University) “Bishop’s Ecocriticism and the Vassar Circle” cited the wasps’ nest from  “Santarem” to suggest that natural images need not be symbolic.  Received as a result of simple observation, the nest reminds us of our desire to decode signs and emblems in an attempt to gain verbal mastery. This ecocritical perspective imbues her poetic philosophy of  portraying a mind in motion as one that attempts to hold together the dialectic play of history, culture, and nature.

Review

Lorrie Goldensohn, Kensington, California

Paton, Priscilla. Abandoned New England: Landscape in the Works of Homer, Frost, Hopper, Wyeth, and Bishop. Hanover, NH: UP of New England, 2003; xiii + 282 pp.  with index.

In a series of overlapping essays, Priscilla Paton’s sophisticated and thoughtful book teases out all the intricacies of nuance possible in the American nostalgia for the lost ruined Eden, and for the farm and village pastoral which we have abandoned and isolated, and from which we are in uncertain exile. In collision with the agrarian myths of American essence, our rapid urbanization has eliminated or bypassed even the early signs of industrial technology from active memory, leaving us hungry for connection with a past which we cannot bear to dismiss as merely backward and small. If our pasts are forgotten in the one-way flow of time, we reason, then the inevitable sentence must complete itself with our own obliteration, or as Paton eloquently writes:

If as individuals and as a culture, we look to the past inscribed upon the landscape to assure us that we have lived, we also find evidence that we die and are dying.  That death takes with it certain principles and failings.  In  this the vernacular ruin is a humble, local variation on the classical themes of transience and permanence: monuments outlast honored faiths and heroes only eventually to crumble into dust.

The ever-receding past, holding its forecast of our doubtful future, becomes the welling source of mystery in all of the images, visual and verbal, that Paton examines.  These images are steadily made to illuminate deeper questions about the relation of the human to the material and dissolving order, as Paton probes what she refers to as “the rural, the natural, and the nativist.” Frost’s overgrown pastureland, Hopper’s House by the Railroad, or Bishop’s Cape Breton or the objects of her childhood farm home, all reside in the suggestive immanence of the domestic object, or the paradoxically distant but familiar landscape.

Emerson, Priscilla Paton reminds us, was the first American eco-critic to tell us that “Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact,”  reaffirming the unity of human and natural.  Yet in the pervasive distance of retrospect, loss colors the objects and subjects of Hopper’s, Frost’s, and Bishop’s  contemplation.  But if spirit has departed from place and object, leaving only  traces for Emerson’s descendants, Paton’s artists are nonetheless still bound: “I wish to see how the places they found themselves in were both safe havens and the source of disturbing searches.”

If  not always directly parallel to each of the artists Priscilla Paton chooses to examine, Elizabeth Bishop is in synchrony with Edward Hopper’s “Gothic loneliness”: but where Hopper’s vantage lay so often with the passenger looking out from automobile or railway, Bishop of course, was the indefatigable traveler of northern and southern hemispheres, committed as much to discovery of new places as to reexamination of the old. Nor was she engaged with quite the same dichotomies of power and powerlessness animating Winslow Homer’s epic images of sea struggle.  But like Frost and Homer, Bishop disavows the easy grandeur, and stays in problematic relationship to Romantic transcendence, a relationship which Paton handles with rewarding subtlety.

In Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, landscape gains subversive strength from its detachment from the too-easy symbolic cliche of the Abiding Feminine watched over by the imperial male eye.  Bishop’s observer does not easily stand in for the masculine agent, his subject eye ruling the female object, although intermittently in poems like “Brazil, January 1, 1502” Bishop appropriates this position for her own dramatic purposes.  In Paton’s reading of Bishop’s feminized land and seascape, Paton finds “a conflicted woman drawing on conventions that have dehumanized the feminine and feminized an exploited nature.” Here “Bishop potentially places herself in both the roles of the violated and violator as she seeks to be a Nature Lover.” And again, “She pushes against rather than completely dispenses with traditional tropes for nature and landscape;” a process of resistance and incorporation that Paton sees continuing throughout both Bishop’s Brazilian and Nova Scotian poems.

In her Brazilian poems, Bishop projects herself and the alien desired other into celebrations of landscape colored with apprehensive fear as well as with an amplifying affirmation of a loving self. The early northern poems, “Cape Breton” and “At the Fishhouses,” offer “a misted, enfolded, fissured landscape,” in which the feminine properties of water operate in contrast with the imagery of a dominating and hierarchically ensconced solar deity. Down there descriptively even in the chilly waters of knowledge, the “cold hard mouth of the world” and the famous “rocky breasts” of the fishhouses vie with the more inviting maternal and domestic vision of enclosure and belonging, which ultimately come to fuller being in both the Brazilian “Song for the Rainy Season” and the Canadian poem, “The Moose.”

Priscilla Paton fords these divided longings and visions deftly and comprehensively.  Managing both micro and macro detail in her analyses persuasively, Paton blends eco-criticism, gender studies, and postmodern awareness, as she folds Elizabeth Bishop into a broad and brilliant company of diverse American aims.

Turkish Poets Pay Tribute to Bishop

Laura Jehn Menides, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Elizabeth Bishop’s gravesite in Hope Cemetery, Worcester, continues to lure admirers of her works, including many writers who come to pay tribute to one of their favorite poets.  The most recent pilgrims were the eminent Turkish poet, Ilhan Berk, and his translator, poet and novelist, Onder Otcu, who were on a 2004 tour of the northeastern U.S. in order to promote Berk’s poetry, newly translated by Otcu.  After an impressive, highly charged reading at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the two Turkish poets specifically requested that I take them to Bishop’s grave, and I gladly agreed to be their guide. At the cemetery, we recited “The Bight,” whose final lines appear on the headstone, “All the untidy activity continues, / awful but cheerful,” and took photographs of the site, beautifully set in a snowy, New England landscape. “Bishop’s poetry is honored in Turkey,” Ilhan Berk said; “she is one of my dearest models.”

Other writers, as well as many students and Bishop specialists, have also been drawn to Bishop’s gravesite.  George Monteiro, Brown University professor and Bishop scholar, came and read “The Bight” in Portuguese.  Carmen Oliveira, whose book, Rare and Commonplace Flowers tells of Bishop’s relationship with the Brazilian Lota de Macedo Soares, visited the gravesite during her U.S. reading tour.  And during his pilgrimage to Bishop’s grave, the poet and Western Buddhist monk, Candradasa, commented that many of Bishop poems, such as “The Fish,” are like Buddhist meditations—in that they carefully, completely describe and muse upon their subject until it releases its meaning.

Worcester’s local poets and writers, members of the Worcester County Poetry Association, also make a point of visiting the site, usually on the anniversary of her birth, and read a series of her poems.  This past February 8th, we not only visited the site, but then gathered at a local restaurant, the Webster House, to view a picture of Bishop displayed in the dining room, framed along with her Worcester-based poem, “In the Waiting Room.”

The tradition of visiting Bishop’s gravesite may have begun in 1997, during the Elizabeth Bishop Conference and Poetry Festival.  During the week-long series of readings, meetings and other events, about 50 conference participants, including some of Bishop’s family members from Florida, New England, and Canada, gathered to pay homage to Worcester’s native daughter.

Forthcoming Publications

Jeffrey Gray. Mastery’s End: Travel and Postwar American Poetry. University of Georgia Press (Fall 2004).

Carol Frost, “Bishop’s Inner Eye,”  (previewed in Cancun)

New England Review (Spring 2004).

The Clam Diggers

Ross Leckie, University of New Brunswick

One wouldn’t think that one patch of sand

could hide so many.  Bent over like bobbing

toys, the diggers work the same square yard

 

in front of them, scrabbling after the clams

that squirt deeper into the alluvial muck,

the way a god might grapple to save souls,

 

flinging them aside into a plastic bucket

with a careless shrug of the shoulders.

This is the definition of seasonal work.

 

Sun bakes the flats as the tide recedes;

it sears the skin at the back of the neck,

bronzes the hair along the muscles

 

of the arm.  I mimicked this employment

as a boy, shiny red plastic shovel and a big

yellow pail dangling from my puffy hand.

 

But I couldn’t help lifting my eyes to this

nothing, nothing, nothing that swills across

a blank expanse.  The furious diggers are bent

 

on repeated calculations of pi, in each glance

at a clam’s circumference.  Their tiny plots

anticipate an inheritance in this life

 

and the next.  Not much in this life, which

pays them piecemeal.  As gravity drags

its linen over the clam beds, the yammering

 

pistons of an ATV race across the sand to gather

the day’s catch.  I wonder—they must stiffen—

does life close in on them like a glassy shell?

 

News

A  fully staged version of “One Atlantic: From Bangor to Rio,” a play about Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, appeared at Hartwick College on March 8, 2004 in the Theatre of  the Anderson Center for the Arts. It featured the author, Monique Fowler as Elizabeth Bishop and Jack Wetherall as Lowell. John Vivian was the production  manager. Interested viewers will get a second chanceto see the play staged at the “Poetries of the 40’s Conference” in Orono, Maine, June 24-27, 2004. (T. Travisano)

New York Stage and Film and Vassar College announce the first production in English of a play by Brazilian playwright Marta Goes,  entitled “A Safe Harbour for Elizabeth Bishop,”  based on the lives of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares, starring Amy Irving and directed by Richard Jay  Alexander. The dates of performance are June 23-July 3. (Barbara Page)

The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin, a semi-annual publication of The Elizabeth Bishop Society, is edited by Angus Cleghorn at Seneca College, with assistance from Josie Sage.

Elizabeth Bishop Society Advisory Board

Sandra Barry, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Jacqueline Vaught Brogan, Notre Dame University
Bethany Hicok, Westminster College
Laura J Menides, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Barbara Page, Vassar College
Camille Roman, Washington State University
Thomas Travisano, President, Hartwick College
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