The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin
Volume 17, Number 1 “All the untidy activity continues…” Summer 2011
Centenary Edition (1911 – 2011)
Revise, revise, revise…
The Centenary Poems and Prose Editions
Review: Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems. Edited by Saskia Hamilton. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. 368 pp.
Elizabeth Bishop: Prose. Edited by Lloyd Schwartz. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. 528 pp.
Almost thirty years after the publication of Elizabeth Bishop’s Complete Poems (1983) and Collected Prose (1984), we at last have two books that live up to the titles of these earlier publications. Published to celebrate Bishop’s centenary, Poems and Prose are authoritative and definitive new editions of Bishop’s writing for the twenty-first century. These are the books in which Bishop’s poems and prose will be read and taught from now on, the very best of what looks more and more like one of the most significant bodies of writing of any twentieth-century writer.
Bishop biographers and critics have known for years how incomplete and uncollected the earlier volumes actually are, but it was not until the publication of Alice Quinn’s edition of the uncollected poems, drafts and fragments in 2006 that the common reader found out. Helen Vendler, in an infamous review of Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box, attempted to put these “new” poems back in the box, or rather back in the library stacks where she hoped only “scholars” would go looking. Lloyd Schwartz’s 2008 edition of Bishop’s Poems, Prose, and Letters for the Library of America helped prevent this happening. In a section entitled “Unpublished Poems and Drafts,” Schwartz gave the best drafts and poems in Edgar Allan Poe not just a second hearing, but a second printing. He also amplified the relatively small selection of prose writings that had previously been available.
It is to the credit of Bishop’s publishers that they have taken the opportunity of her one hundredth birthday to go back and revisit their first attempts at collecting her work in light of these new editions. The 1983 Complete Poems is itself “a selection” as this new Poems makes clear, but it is a selection that has become much-loved over the years. Readers familiar with the layout of certain poems in the earlier volume will undoubtedly have to revise how they quite literally see poems like “The Bight” that now fits on a single page. Having got used to the poem’s famous concluding lines untidily spilling onto the next page, it is certainly something of a shock to see them in a different place.
Poems includes all of the poems published by Bishop herself, alongside what the editors describe, not without some justification, as “a considered selection of texts left in draft at her death in 1979.” This has meant what the editors call “preserv[ing]” (or more actually restoring) the distinction Bishop herself made between poems and translations collected in volumes and those she left out of her books following their publication in periodicals and anthologies. The edition of Questions of Travel (1965) in this book thus includes five poems translated from the Portuguese, emphasising the importance of Brazil to the original structure of the book (the Complete Poems exiled them to a selection of translations at the back of the book). “Objects & Apparitions,” a translation of an Octavio Paz poem, is similarly reintegrated into Geography III (1976). In other words, one can at last read the four major collections of poetry in the order that Bishop intended.
The most controversial element of the book is likely to be the selection of unpublished manuscript poems. A “Note on the Text” reveals this to be the work of Bishop’s friend and surviving literary executor, Frank Bidart, and her publisher, Jonathan Galassi. Unlike Edgar Allan Poe, we have a facsimile of each selected poem, together with a transcription of the poem on the page facing it. This avoids one of the main problems of Quinn’s edition, the not knowing how finished drafts or fragments actually are in the archive. Here, one can see the crossings-out and revisions. We can, in other words, make our own mind up about which poems are complete. I like their selection of poems. All of my favourite work from Edgar Allan Poe (“In a Room,” “It is marvelous to wake up together…,” “Dear, my compass…,” “Vague Poem (Vaguely love poem),” “Breakfast Song,” and “For Grandfather”) is included. In fact, I think every poem fit to print can be found here. I can imagine some readers missing a poem or two, but not many more.
The new edition of Prose offers as rich and wide ranging a selection as the Poems. Whereas the Poems appears to have been edited collectively (with Saskia Hamilton taking the most credit in the book’s “Acknowledgements”), Prose is very much the work of one person, Lloyd Schwartz. One cannot fault his editorial work here. He includes all of Bishop’s published stories, essays and reviews, together with difficult to find early prose and previously unpublished texts. The “Editor’s Note” contextualising the prose material is short but suggestive. As Schwartz points out, Bishop’s prose “often deliberately blurs the distinction between fiction and memoir […] she treats what are clearly autobiographical narratives as if they were fiction.” Schwartz also comments thoughtfully on Bishop’s problems with genre, drawing attention to her indecision over whether to call a projected but ultimately unfinished book of prose, “IN THE VILLAGE & OTHER STORIES” or “IN THE VILLAGE: STORIES & ESSAYS.”
Schwartz’s editing of the Prose is in implicit disagreement with Robert Giroux’s editing of the Collected Prose in which he artificially divided the stories into two categories: “Memory: Persons & Places” and “Stories.” Such classifications had the peculiar effect of downgrading some stories as straightforward memoir and implying autobiographical material elsewhere was at least partly if not entirely made-up. Bishop’s Nova Scotian writings were particularly badly-treated. “Primer Class” and “The Country Mouse” appeared in the first part of the book, but not “Gwendolyn,” “Memories of Uncle Neddy” or “In the Village.” Schwartz’s “Stories and Memoirs,” arranged in order of composition rather than publication, is less judgemental. Individual readers can decide for themselves whether they are reading stories or memoirs, or, as is arguably the case with much of Bishop’s prose, stories as memoirs and memoirs as stories.
Schwartz also includes the original draft of Brazil (1962) for the first time, as well as the correspondence between Bishop and Anne Stevenson when the latter was writing the first full-length critical book on Bishop’s work. Both items are significant additions to the Bishop canon, the former for its insights into Bishop’s original thoughts on her new home, the latter for the story it tells about two poets’ artistic development, not just one. Alongside Bishop’s famous “Darwin letter,” we finally have the equally brilliant Stevenson letter than prompted it.
There is much else to admire about both books. The Appendix to Poems lists the contents of all of Bishop’s books of poetry on first publication. The “Notes on the Texts” to Prose is similarly thorough on first publication details and the location of unpublished manuscripts. Both books have invaluable indexes. The jacket designs, by Jonathan Lippincott, are themselves works of elegant, understated beauty. The oil painting of Bishop by her friend, Loren McIver, that is employed on the back of Poems, and the photograph by Alice Methfessel that is used on the back of Prose, offer human portraits of a famously shy woman. Both capture in different media and at different times of Bishop’s life what Robert Lowell memorably described as her “sorrowing amusement.”
Is this it then? Is the Bishop canon complete? Not yet. As the introduction to Poems admits, the book does not “exhaust what the archive contains – including manuscript poems and translations as yet unpublished, as well as unpublished drafts of eventually completed and published poems, poems by others, song lyrics (blues, ballads) written down or translated, and notebook entries.” Lloyd Schwartz’s introduction to the Prose also mentions “thousands of letters,” together with “numerous unfinished drafts with memorable passages [that] require a volume of their own.” By my count, that’s at least three more books in the pipeline: another book of manuscript poems, a collected letters, and an edition of the notebooks.
It is easy to be greedy with a writer like Bishop. One wants everything to be in print. Half, in her case, is not enough. That said, these editions of her Poems and Prose represent one hell of a half-life.
Review of Bishop and The New Yorker
George Monteiro, Brown University
Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence. Edited by Joelle Biele. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011. 496 pp.
This book, skillfully and painstakingly edited, presents in its full abundance the correspondence that Elizabeth Bishop exchanged with her editors at The New Yorker, the principal periodical outlet for her work for forty years. With the exception of a single note in 1934, this correspondence dates from 1939 and runs to August 1979, less than two months before her death. Dana Gioia has rightly observed in a review in The Wall Street Journal that this book will be far more interesting to poets and other students of Bishop’s work than to the general public. It is to those poets and students, then, that this review is aimed. They are the ones, after all, who will take relish (and, perhaps, heart) in this long story of give-and-take, persuasion and cajoling, and submission and praise and frustration and joy, between a cherished major American poet and the editors of a journal that paid her for first refusal rights to her work.
For all those who worship at the altar of Elizabeth Bishop’s reputation for precision, exactness, and uncompromising certainty about a poem’s rightness when she had finished it, this collection of letters between the poet and her editors at The New Yorker should be a sobering wake-up call. For the bargain the writer made with the journal she most valued and from which she was willing to accept, year-after-year, a first-consideration contract, extended to permitting herself to be edited thoroughly in the guise of copy-editing. When her editors chose not to nudge her work along until it was “perfect” for The New Yorker readership, a mandarin notion no one at the journal seems to have questioned, her poems and stories were rejected politely, but rejected nevertheless. Accepting what they did like gave them license to tinker with punctuation, capitalization, and sometimes language. All this was done civilly, for Katherine White and her successor as Bishop’s editor, Howard Moss, were nothing if not civil in their friendship, no less than in their stewardship. The poet considered each and every suggestion for the insertion of a comma or the dropping of one, the capitalization of a word or the decapitalization of one in this capital story of negotiation over punctuation, etc., and, far more often than not, she capitulated to the suggestions of the often unnamed mavens of copy-editing at The New Yorker. It began right off, with the first poem accepted for publication by The New Yorker. The editors were pleased to accept the poem “Spleen,” but didn’t much care for its title. “There’s only one change we much insist upon. The title Spleen doesn’t seem to us to suit the poem at all.” The “us” at The New Yorker, moreover, were “sure” that she would be able to find “one that is more appropriate.” (3) And the young poet—she was twenty-eight at the time— understandably knuckled under, too readily agreeing that “the title SPLEEN is poor.” But her next suggestion, “History,” didn’t pass muster with her betters at The New Yorker. When she then came up with “Cirque d’Hiver,” having obviously discerned that the French part of the poem that they liked was not the homage to Charles Baudelaire and his poems about ennui and depression, an allusion that would serve as background to the poem’s last, brave statement: “Well, we have come this far,” but a giving-in to the tourist reader’s comfort at being familiar with this Parisian institution, at least from the brochure. Read the poem as “Spleen,” as the poet originally intended, and marvel at how her editors have collaborated in turning it into the poem that would better serve their (and, of course, their readers’) appetites for good New Yorker verse. How different, too, would “North Haven” be— a poem published in The New Yorker in the last year of the poet’s life—if she had insisted on keeping the poem exactly as it was when she sent it in. Consider the changes made in the poem editorially, as described by the editor of Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: “In preparing the poem for galley proof, Moss took all of the proper names of the birds and flowers out of initial caps. In stanza two, he removed the comma at the end of line two and inserted a dash. He added a comma after ‘south’ and removed the comma and inserted a dash after ‘sidewise’ in line four. In the last stanza, line four, he made ‘songs’ singular” (391). In a final change, one obviously intended to make certain that even the most casual reader of New Yorker poetry be kept up to speed, someone thought it helpful to replace the “R. L.” the poet had provided to identify the subject of her elegy, reflecting an older tradition in English literature, with “Robert Lowell.” Even “The Armadillo,” later dedicated to Lowell, was not safe from editorial tampering at the hands of Bishop’s editors at The New Yorker. They inserted the word “Brazil” in its title—”to place the poem,” it was explained (180). Appropriately, this intrusive bit of information disappeared from the title when Bishop included the poem in Questions of Travel.
It was with both instruction and pleasure that I read this book. Apart from its wealth of detail about a great poet’s quondam dealings with her premier magazine publisher, it also delivers a needful corrective to the hagiographic portrait of the uncompromisingly principled craftsman that used to hold sway until the arrival of Bishop’s twenty-first century posthumous editions.
If she was not St. Elizabeth, as, it is said, some referred to her in Petropolis, she was—is—an uncommonly fine poet, one who at the top of her game composed more than a handful of unmatchable poems. The question remains, however, did the tinkering with those poems by the writing mavens at The New Yorker — lesser lights than she in every instance, it should be noted—improve her poems? Oh, for a variorum edition that included the “final” versions of her poems as submitted for editorial consideration (and alteration, at The New Yorker)! For many years, what The New Yorker did not take was forwarded to the Partisan Review, as per Bishop’s request. Invariably, that journal’s editors published her poems unchanged, surviving correspondence—usually from Philip Rahv suggests, thereby respecting the poet as the higher authority over the details of her own poem.
Review of Deep Skin
Jeffrey Gray, Seton Hall University
Peggy Samuels, Deep Skin: Elizabeth Bishop and Visual Art. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010. 239 pp. and vii page index.
Back when surfaces were disparaged in favor of depths—whether psychological, mythical, or political—Elizabeth Bishop was seen by critics as a descriptive poet who wrote closely observed but, after all, surface poems—like the much anthologized “The Fish,” presented to students to illustrate close description (and a humane ending).
Then Bishop was rescued and read more productively as a poet of gender, history, and geography, one who made poems out of encounters, anthropological, national, and animal. The world around her began to catch up to the poetry.
Peggy Samuels’ Deep Skin: Elizabeth Bishop and Visual Art suggests that it is time to recover the “descriptive” poet of the past, but reappraised in postmodernity—”on the cusp,” she writes, “between a modernist fascination with depth and a postmodern turn toward surfaces,” and in the light of the intervening decades in which Bishop’s reputation soared. The phrase “skin deep” is reversed in the title to suggest that surfaces, this time around, are porous, allowing colors, images, and perceptions to seep back and forth between inner and outer worlds. They resemble that pond in Frost’s “For Once, Then, Something,” in which the narcissus-like speaker sometimes sees his own face, wreathed with trees and clouds, but often enough glimpses “something” lying below and beyond it.
Samuels’ own figure improves on this, seeing that pond surface as tissue: “Lyric,” she writes early in the book, “becomes a membrane that allows layers of human experience…to meet, cross, absorb, and alter.” This question of surface is explored in the context of the painters Bishop most admired and was most influenced by. (The book is illustrated, with numerous black-and-white as well as glossy color reproductions of paintings and assemblages). Importantly, the turn is not to painters who drew on traditional resources of depth and perspective but to those influenced by surrealism and expressionism. The principal figures are Paul Klee, Kurt Schwitters, and, in a later chapter, Alexander Calder.
What these artists offered Bishop was not only image and style but tactility—perhaps most in Schwitters, whose Dadaist assemblages of found materials remind one often of Joseph Cornell, who is absent here, perhaps due to Bonnie Costello’s recent examination of Cornell in her 2008 book, Planets On Tables: Poerty, Still Life, and the Turning World. Although of course Bishop was influenced by numerous poets, she didn’t care for the discursiveness of the later Wallace Stevens (“poetry so aware lacks depth”), or even Yeats (“too busy being a poet to…get in touch with anything”). The painters offered different, and for Bishop more immediately useful, models. Moreover, collage provided a solution to Bishop’s nagging problem of disparate and disconnected experiences, best expressed in “Over 2000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance”—that is, the problem of “’and’ and ‘and’.”
As Samuels writes in “CODA: Mirrors and Fields,” Bishop’s mode was “to arrange the materials of lyric as fabrics or materials of the world that are held next to/ against one another.” They “often interpenetrate or modulate toward each other.”
Some revelations are in store: most readers will not have known that “Cape Breton” describes not only a landscape but also a Schwitters collage: “C35 Paper Clouds.” With the collage before us, we now have correlatives for such lines as “The same mist hangs in thin layers.” Moreover, this depiction of mist as fabric reminds one the constructedness of nature that Bishop presents in the epigraph and opening lines of “Brazil, January 1, 1502.”
Similarly, most readers won’t know that Vuillard’s colors and sensibility inform “For M.B.S., Buried in Nova Scotia,” that Calder’s aesthetic informs “Arrival at Santos,” “Armadillo,” and other poems, or that the MOMA publication Arts of the South Seas is the probable source for “the poor prophet paynim” of “2,000 Illustrations.”
What was evidently appealing in the aesthetic of Klee and Schwitters was not only the resources of color theory, cubism, and surrealism, but also a sensibility that Bishop recognized: Klee’s subjectivities, unmoored and injured (or dismembered, as in “The Man of Confusion”) were “subjects [seen] as partially open, airy, crossed by the textures and movements of the environment….” Samuels notes how the “I” emerges “only gradually” from the mass of perceptions and relations,” as a corollary to Klee’s floating eyes in landscape and surroundings.
Samuels offers readings of descriptive poems from Bishop’s Collected Poems, such as “At the Fishhouses,” “Cape Breton,” “Over 2000 Illustrations,” “Faustina,” “Pleasure Seas,” and others; numerous unpublished poems and drafts, such as “On the Prince of Fundy,” which has the tone and the humor of Klee’s more playful paintings; as well as more recently published poems from Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-box. In all these readings, Samuels combines close reading with close seeing, moving back and forth between the two.
Like the New York poets who admired her so much, Bishop found the discourse of painters and art criticism instructive for her own thinking and her own re-imagining of the relation between surface and depth. A new appreciation of deep surfaces may allow us to recover even “The Fish.” To remind us of that poem’s potential, consider the last few lines of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, where, all animal life having been extinguished, the narrator remembers a fish with its “vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming….” McCarthy, like Samuels reading Bishop, was seeing surfaces not as borders or even outlines, but as interfaces and portals.
Additions to MacMahon’s Bibliography
George Monteiro, Brown University
The following list adds items to Candace MacMahon’s Elizabeth Bishop: A Bibliography 1927-1979 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 1980). MacMahon’s categories are employed and her overall format is followed. In the category of “Works Which Mention Elizabeth Bishop,” however, the entries are listed by publication date, not alphabetically by author, as in MacMahon.
B. Contributions to Books
“Jeronymo’s House, Key West,” New Road 1944: New Directions in European Art and Letters, ed. Alex Comfort and John Bayliss (London: Grey Walls Press, 1944), pp. 237-38.
Quatro Poemas, Série Cadernos Brasileiros 1 (Rio de Janeiro: no publisher, 1962).Includes “Algumas Notas Sobre Robert Lowell,” pp. 5-9.1
C. Contributions to Periodicals
“Reassurance” (Talk of the Town), The New Yorker (Nov. 20, 1934), p. 15.2
“Welcome” (Talk of the Town), The New Yorker (July 16, 1949), p. 14.3
“False Scent” (Talk of the Town), The New Yorker (Jan. 17, 19510), p. 21.44
Monteiro, “Bishop’s Contri butions,” 6.
Untitled (Talk of the Town), The New Yorker (Oct. 13, 1956), p. 37.5
Untitled, Poetry Pilot (Oct. 1964), pp. 1-12.
Six hymns chosen by Bishop as featured
poetry for this issue of the Poetry Pilot, a publication of The Academy of American Poets.
“Squatter’s Children,” Poetry Pilot (Dec. 1971), p. 1.
Periodical: Plural 49, 5 (Oct. 1975), pp. 8-9.
Contains “El fin de marzo, Duxbury” (“End of March [for John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill
Read]: Duxbury”), trans. Octavio Paz.
Periodical: Diário Carioca (Aug. 29, 1965). 6 Contains
“Dia de Reis” (“Twelfth Morning; or What
You Will”), trans. Flavio Macedo Soares. Re
produces the Darci Penteado picture of Bishop
from the dust-jacket of Questions of Travel.
Oswaldino Marques, Ensaios Escolhidos. Rio de Janeiro:
Civilização, 1968. Pp. 268-69, 269-70, 278-79.
Contains “Um Milgre Como Café da Manhã”
(“A Miracle for Breakfast), trans. Oswaldino
Marques; Marques’ translation of “Um Milgre
Como Café da Manhã” as revised by Elizabeth
Bishop; and “O Homem-‘Bruxa’” (“The Man-
Moth”), trans. Oswaldino Marques.
Manuel Bandeira, Estrêla da Vida Inteira, 2nd ed. Rio de
Janeiro: José Olympio, 1970. P. 406.
Contains “Acalanto” (Poem III of “Songs for a
Colored Singer”), trans. Manuel Bandeira.
J. Articles about Elizabeth Bishop and Her Work
Bandeira, Manuel. “Parabens, Elizabeth!” Jornal do
Brasil (Rio de Janeiro) (May 16, 1956).
Zyda, Joan. “Elizabeth Bishop… Observer of
Poetry,” Chicago Tribune (June 4, 1978), p.D4.
Poems: North & South—A Cold Spring
“A List of 250 Outstanding Books of the Year,” New York Times (Dec. 4, 1955), p. BR64.
Lucia Miguel Pereira, “Elizabeth Bishop,” O Estado de São Paulo (Oct. 6, 1956); also in Tribuna da Imprensa (Nov. 17, 1956).
“Modern Poetic Voices,” London Times (Jan. 3, 1957), p. 11.
“Some Modern Poets,” London Times Weekly Review (Jan. 10, 1957), p. 12.
The Diary of “Helena Morley”
Fanny Butcher, “Quiet Genius in a Little Universe,”
Chicago Tribune, Dec. 22, 1957, p. B6.
Harold Nicolson, “A Bad Character,” London Observer, Sept. 14, 1958, p. 16.
Jean Howard, The Spectator, Sept. 26, 1958, 415.
“Paperbacks: New and Noteworthy,” New York
Times, Jan. 8, 1978, p. BR12.
“‘Life’ edita livro sobre o Brasil,’ O Estado de São Paulo (Mar. 23, 1962).
Questions of Travel
Radcliffe Squires, “James Dickey and Others,”
Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 1967), 296-8.
Kenneth Koch, “Poetry in Paperback,” New York
Times (Apr. 28, 1968), p. BR7.
Richard Holmes, “Poets: Ferlinghetti, Amis, Coward, and Love, love, love,” London Times ( Dec. 16, 1967), p. 18.
Penelope Palmer, “Three Ways to a Centre,” Agenda, 6 (Spring 1968), 81-90.
The Ballad of the Burglar of Babylon
George A. Woods, “Children’s Books,” New York Times (Nov. 3, 1968), p. 50.
The Complete Poems
Geoffrey Wolff, “Growing Interest in Verse,” Washington Post (May 7, 1969), p. B8.
“A Selection of Recent Titles,” New York Times (June 8, 1969), p. BR6.
An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry
Alberto de Lacerda, “Elizabeth Bishop and Modern Brazilian Poetry,” Boston University Journal, 21 (Winter 1973), 69-70.
“Editors’ Choice,” New York Times (Feb. 13, 1977), p.
M. Notices of Awards
“People Who Read and Write,” New York Times (July 22, 1945), p. 102.The Houghton Mifflin
Award for publication of North and South. [Stand-alone Photo, Caption]. Hartford Courant (Aug. 4, 1946), p. SM13.
“First to Get Fellowship For Writing at Bryn Mawr, New York Times (Mar. 11, 1951), p. 65. The Lucy Martin Donnelly Fellowship.
“Arts Group Makes 15 Grants of $1,000,” New York Times (Apr. 27, 1951), p. 34. National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant.
David Dempsey, “In and Out of Books,” New York Times [May 13, 1951], p. BR5.)
“Kantor is Awarded Pulitzer Prize for his ‘Andersonville,’” Chicago Tribune (May 8, 1956), p 6.
“Kantor Novel Wins the Pulitzer Prize,” Chicago Tribune [May 13, 1956], p. B2.
The Pulitzer Prize for Poems: North & South—A Cold Spring.
“Husband—Wife Team Wins Pulitzer Prize in Drama,” Hartford Courant (May 8, 1956), p. 1.
For Poems: North & South—A Cold Spring. “Vive no Brasil a Poetisa Americana Elizabeth
Bishop,” Diario de Noticias (New Bedford, Massachusetts) (May 10, 1956), p. 1.
The Pulitzer Prize for Poems: North & South—A Cold Spring. [In Portuguese.]
Robert Clurman, “In and Out of Books,” New York Times (July 22, 1956), p. BR5. “Fellowship,” Poetry Pilot (Oct. 1964), p. 2. Bishop’s Partisan Review Fellowship.
Elizabeth A. McSherry, “Coming of Age—National Book Awards,” Hartford Courant (Mar. 29,
1970), p. 22K. For Collected Poems.
“Former LC Consultant Wins Award,” Library of Congress Information Bulletin (Mar. 12, 1976), 166. Neustadt Award.
N. Works which Mention Elizabeth Bishop
John Cotton Walcott, “English and American Surrealists,” Forum and Century, 97 (May 1937), 192.
“Elizabeth Bishop’s The Weed has an affinity to Donne’s Ecstasie, the disregard of time, the mixture of fervor and thought.”
Peter Munro Jack, “Garlands of New Writing in America and Abroad,” New York Times (Oct. 3, 1937), p. 104.
In a review of New Letters in America, edited by Horace Gregory, Jack writes: “Miss Elizabeth Bishop lives up best to Mr. Gregory’s desire for fable, almost beginning her story with ‘onceupon a time’—Her writing is almost the best in the book, almost as good as Plomer and Isherwood, but not quite, since she inclines rather to the Robert Nathan type of writing and fantasy. Indeed, an editor might very well commission the older writers to write his own imitations.”
Peter Munro Jack, “New Directions in Prose and Poetry,” New York Times (Jan. 14, 1940), p. BR2. In New Directions in Prose and Poetry 1939
Russell MacFall, “Six Volumes of Poems of the Present,” Chicago Tribune (July 25, 1943), p. E9. Bishop’s named is among the “newer names, favorably represented” in Tom Boggs’s anthology American Decade.
Selden Rodman, “Butterflies Left From Summer,” New York Times (May 9, 1948), p. BR 14. Rodman calls Ruth Herschberger’s A Way of Happening the “best first book of poems to appear since Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘North and South’ a year ago.”
Nona Balakian, “American Story Tellers,” New York Times (July 17, 1949), p. BR4. In a review of The Best American Short Stories 1949, Balakian says that “the tragedy pictured, as in Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘The Farmer’s Children,’ remains too remote…”
Edward Parone, “The Voices,” Hartford Courant (Jan. 15, 1950), p. SM13. In a review of Pleasure Dome, Parone writes:
“Elizabeth Bishop, reading her excellent
poem ‘The Fish,’ is unbelievably bad. Her
recitation of ‘rainbow, rainbow, rainbow /
And I let the fish go’ is the least pleasant of
the small pleasures in the dome.”
Marion Strobel, “Poets Write Prefaces to Own Works,” Chicago Tribune (Apr. 9, 1950), p. E8. In John Ciardi’s Mid-Century Poets, Bishop states that she “is opposed to making poetry ‘monstrous and boring and proceeding to talk the very life out of it.’ Her brief belligerent complaints are followed by poems whose visual impact is as familiarly new as her fish with his ‘pink swim-bladder like a big peony.’”
Paul Engle, “Poets (Poor Fools) Continue to Write, and Publishers (Ditto) Continue to Bite,” Chicago Tribune (Dec. 4, 1955), p. D18. “As Elizabeth Bishop says in ‘North and South,’ ‘Song-sparrows were wound up for the summer.’”
Fanny Butcher, “The Literary Spotlight,” Chicago Tribune (May 20, 1956), p. C8. “Foreign parts have claimed the winner of the Pulitzer prize for poetry, Elizabeth Bishop… After a year in that most coveted of assignments for poets, consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress, and another at Bryn Mawr College on the Lucy Martin Donnelley fellowship, she whisked off to Rio de Janeiro to live.”
Harvey Breit, “In and Out of Books,” New York Times (May 20, 1956), p. 266. Includes a letter written in answer to the request made in Bishop’s poem “Letter to N.Y.”
Harvey Breit, “In and Out of Books,” New York Times (May 27, 1956), p. 236. An account of Bishop’s life in Brazil.
Thomas Lask, “Modern Verse,” New York Times (Mar. 10, 1957), p. X16. Bishop’s “wry sermon on patience, ‘Manuelzinho’” heard on a Caedmon record. “Books and Authors,” New York Times (Dec. 2, 1957), p. 24. Announces the publication of The Diary of “Helena Morley.”
Samuel F. Morse, “Trumpet-Note,” Hartford Courant (June 13, 1959), p. 14H. Reviewing Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, Morse quotes Bishop on the “now familiar trumpet-notes” of Lowell’s poetry before the personal poems of Life Studies.
“Poesias y Poetas Norteamericanos,” El Continental (El Paso, Texas) (Feb.16, 1960), p. 2. Bishop ranks among the top poets of her generation. [In Spanish.]
Arthur Mizener, “The Voice is Quiet, the Eye is Sharp,” New York Times (Dec. 18, 1960), p.BR1. Reviewing Stories from The New Yorker, 1950-1960, Mizener describes “In the Village” as “unrealistic in tone.”
James Dickey, “Dialogues with Themselves,” New York Times (Apr. 28, 1963), p. 294. In a review of Children Passing, All My Pretty Ones and Arrivals and Departures, Dickey refers to “the studied off-handed diction favored by Randall Jarrell and … Bishop.”
Stanley Kunitz, “Talk with Robert Lowell,” New York Times (Oct. 4, 1964), p. BR36. Quotes Robert Lowell: “‘The Scream’ owes everything to Elizabeth Bishop’s beautiful, calm story, ‘In the Village.’”
Louis Simpson, “Poetry in the Sixties—Long Live Blake! Down with Donne!” New York Times (Dec. 28, 1969), p. BR1. “There is a recording of Elizabeth Bishop reading her poem ‘The Fish’; in speaking the final words ‘rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!’ she manages to suggest that seeing colors has been a distasteful experience.”
David Kalstone, “Sorties,” New York Times (Jan. 23, 1972), p. BR6. In a review of James Dickey’s Journals and New Essays, Kalstone writes: “Dickey dismisses neatness (Richard Wilbur), the ‘off-hand’ in poetry (Elizabeth Bishop and ill-chosen example here)…”
David Kalstone, “Poetry Has Made Friends With Everyone,” New York Times (Feb. 13, 1972), p. BR16. Reviewing The Voice That is Great Within Us, Kalstone takes issue with Hayden Carruth’s characterization of Bishop as being “one of the most popular of the New York ‘poets of wit.’”
David Kalstone, “The Crystal Lithium,” New York Times (Nov. 5, 1972), p. BR6. Reviewing James Schuyler’s Poems, Kalstone writes that Schuyler “often gets the effect of enjoying the drab through odd and wonderful associations, a power quirkier and clearer than any but Elizabeth Bishop’s (who can see, for instance, ‘lupines like apostles’ and the city at dawn, a ‘little chemical “garden” in a jar.’).”
Adrienne Rich, “The Women Poets in English,” New York Times (Apr. 15, 1973), p. 373. Reviewing Ann Stafford’s anthology, Rich writes: “I understand that neither Elizabeth Bishop nor Diane Wakowski wish to be included in all-women’s anthologies; but their absence here diminishes our sense of the brilliance and force of 20th century women poets.”
John Malcolm Brinnin, “”The Theory and Practice of Poetry,” New York Times (Mar. 2, 1975), p.251. “No one blinks an eye nowadays when Allen Ginsberg turns up in the same anthologies with Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Wilbur.”
Albin Kribs, “Notes on People,” New York Times (Dec. 4, 1976), p. 30. Included among the four members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters is Elizabeth Bishop, bringing the number of women members of the academy to eight.
Robert Pinsky, “45 Posthumous Dream Songs,” New York Times (Apr. 3, 1977), p. 253. Reviewing John Berryman’s Henry’s Fate and Other Poems, 1967-1972, Pinsky describes Bishop as “one of those generous poets, those poets—like, say, Elizabeth Bishop—who create the world for us, generating its forms from what they feel…”
Robert Pinsky, “The Style of the ’70s,” New York Times (June 5, 1977), p. BR30. “Any decade that has given prizes to J. V. Cunningham and Elizabeth Bishop is afriend of mine.”
R. W. Flint, “American Poets,” New York Times (Dec. 25, 1977), p. 137. Reviewing David Kalstone’s Five Tempera ments, Flint says that Bishop’s “unwavering individualism has come to seem as admiable as it is comforting…”
Irving Howe, “Witness to a Radical Turning,” New York Times (Nov. 19, 1978), p. 54. Reviewing The Poetry Anthology 1912-1977, edited by Daryl Hine and Joseph Parisi, Howe notes that Bishop bears “the heavy weight of modernist influence without being crushed by it.”
Denis Donoghue, “Does America Have a Major Poet?” New York Times (Dec. 3, 1978), p. 8. “Elizabeth Bishop’s work issues from a disposition not even to consider the temptation … to be great or major.”
David Lehman, “Letters: American Poets,” New York Times (Feb. 4, 1979), p. BR11. “To read of Robert Penn Warren’s ‘refusal to be great’ or Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘disposition’ to be minor, gives rise to a splendidly original critical conceit.” There are no great poets, only great critics.
Anne Stevenson. “With Head and Heart,” New York Times (Feb. 11, 1979), p. BR4. Reviewing books by Muriel Rukeyser and by May Swenson, Stevenson writes:“Though in many respects opposites, poets such as Rukeyser, Swenson, Donnelly and, of course, Elizabeth Bishop do have one quality in common—or perhaps two qualities. They are all survivors, and they are all wise.”
R. Published Letters and Excerpts from Letters
Poetry Pilot (Oct. 1964), p. 11.
“Elizabeth Bishop, Poet, Dies at 68,” Hartford Courant, Oct. 9, 1979, p. 12.
[Elizabeth Bishop], Jornal do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Oct. 9, 1979.
“Elizabeth: A morte do mais refinado talento da literatura norte-americana,” Jornal da Tarde (Rio de Janeiro), Oct. 9, 1979.
“Morre Elizabeth Bishop, a voz da poesia brasileira nos EUA,” O Globo (Rio), Oct. 9, 1979.
“Elizabeth Bishop, para quem o Brasil também era poesia,” Jornal do Brasil (Rio), Oct. 10, 1979.
“Deaths Last Week,” Chicago Tribune (Oct. 14, 1979), p. B25.
“Elizabeth Bishop, 1949-1950 Poetry Consultant, Dies at Age 68,” Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Nov. 16, 1979, 471-72.
To MacMahon’s item K9ee—Walsh, Chad. “Never Underestimate the Power of a Lady’s Voice,” Book World (Apr. 27, 2929, p. 8 should be added the information that “Book World” was the literary supplement of the Chicago Tribune.
MacMahon’s item S1—Tony Schwartz, “Elizabeth Bishop Is Dead at 68, Won Pulitzer for Poetry in 1956. New York Times, Oct. 8, 1979, p. B13 should read Tony Schwartz,
“Elizabeth Bishop, Won a Pulitzer for Poetry and Taught at Harvard.” New York Times, Oct. 8, 1979, p. B13.
1 Published: George Monteiro, “‘Algumas Notas Sobre Robert Lowell’: An Addition to the Elizabeth Bishop Canon,” Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin, 7 (Summer 1998), 2-3. Reprinted as “Some Notes on Robert Lowell,” Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters, ed. Robert Giroux and Lloyd Schwartz (New York: Library of America, 2008), pp. 712-15.
2 George Monteiro, “Bishop’s Contributions to The New Yorker’s ‘Talk of the Town,’” Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin 15 (Fall 2008): 6.
3 Monteiro, “Bishop’s Contributions,” 6.
4 Monteiro, “Bishop’s Contributions,” 6.
5 Monteiro, “Bishop’s Contributions,” 6.
6 This information comes from a copy of the poem among Bishop’s papers at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. It has a hand-written notation at the top: “D.C. 29.8.65.” It is possible that the poem appeared not in the Diário Carioca but in its subsidiary publication DC-Brasilia.
Angus Cleghorn, Seneca College, Toronto
Bishop enthusiasts around the world are celebrating 100 years since her birth: February 8, 1911. 2011 is a bountiful year with conferences, publications, poetry readings and other events honoring the life and work of Elizabeth Bishop. There is even an Elizabeth Bishop youtube channel. The following events have come to my attention as editor of this newsletter. In reporting them, I have left out some details, and there are many more centenary celebrations of Bishop than I can report here. Much credit goes to event organizers – too many to name, and the year is only half way through.
To report events you have planned or experienced in a forthcoming issue, please send information by e-mail to email@example.com.
The New Yorker Celebrates Elizabeth Bishop
Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 7 pm.
Twenty contemporary poets read favorite poems by Elizabeth Bishop in honor of her centenary year. Actors read excerpts from the new volume of her correspondence, Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence. Featured poets include Elizabeth Alexander, John Ashbery, Frank Bidart, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Tina Chang, Jonathan Galassi, Kimiko Hahn, Richard Howard, Marie Howe, Yusef Komunyakaa, David Lehman, Paul Muldoon, Robert Polito, Marie Ponsot, Vijay Seshadri, Tom Sleigh, Mark Strand, Tracy K. Smith, and Jean Valentine. This event at the Great Hall of Cooper Union was free of charge.
A Centenary Tribute at Boston University
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Participants include Frank Bidart, Peter Campion, Dan Chiasson, Henri Cole, Bonnie Costello, Maggie Dietz, David Ferry, Erica Funkhauser, Jonathan Galassi, Jorie Graham, Melissa Green, Saskia Hamilton, George Kalogeris, Gail Mazur, Christopher Ricks, Peter Sacks and Lloyd Schwartz. Reception to follow. Co-sponsored by the Humanities Foundation and the College of General Studies at Boston University, AGNI, and the Poetry Society of America.
The Centenary of a Worcester-born Poet
Laura Jehn Menides, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The Worcester County Poetry Association (WCPA) is celebrating the centennial year of Elizabeth Bishop’s birth in Worcester by sponsoring, or co-sponsoring, events at least once a month. Although she did not live very long in Worcester, Bishop wrote two of her most compelling works about the city, works that helped put Worcester on the literary map of the U.S. Her well known poem, “In the Waiting Room” begins “In Worcester, Massachusetts,” describes young Elizabeth’s traumatic, existential search for identity, and ends by again naming the city. And her lively prose memoir, “The Country Mouse,” details her stay, at age 6 and 7, in her grandparents’ house on Main Street in Worcester, when she went to Gates Lane School, explored the area and the house like a cat, and often felt lonely and out of place in the city—like the country mouse in the fable. When she died, in 1979, in accordance with her wishes, her ashes were buried in the gravesite of her parents in Worcester’s Hope Cemetery. To honor Bishop in this, her centennial year, WCPA is sponsoring or co-sponsoring many events— readings by local as well as internationally known poets, talks by Bishop scholars, discussions , gatherings of poets, performances of new works, musical settings of Bishop’s poems, and a special, commemorative, birthday party—all open to the public, and most of them free of charge.
January opened with Bob Cronin on “Why Elizabeth Bishop Still Matters” and a discussion on Bishop in Brazil. February events included a ceremony at Bishop’s gravesite in Worcester’s Hope Cemetery, a dinner at a Brazilian restaurant on Shrewsbury Street, an 100th birthday party at Anne Marie Lucci’s Street Beat venue, and at Carle Johnson’s 4th Saturday Poetry Night, an open mic and a featured poet, all of whom will start their reading with a Bishop poem.
In March, for example, WCPA collaborates with Master Singers of Worcester and the Worcester Women’s History Project in a Tuckerman Hall program of choral music based on the writings of famous American women writers, including Elizabeth Bishop. Other months will bring musical settings of Bishop poems by composers Elliott Carter and JB Menides. There will be lectures by established scholars on a variety of topics, including Bishop’s prose writings, her dealings with editors of The New Yorker magazine, and her correspondence with poet Robert Lowell.
Many events will feature talented local poets, especially those who have won prizes or have published a book. Michael Hood, for example, author of Cranberry Smoke, has written a new series of poems in the voice of young Elizabeth Bishop and will use the poems to show Worcester’s teachers how to introduce their students to the famous poet, born in Worcester. And there will be a day-long celebration of Worcester’s poets and poetry— with readings, exhibits, music, chapbooks, and broadsides—at Worcester’s Hanover Theatre. Plans call for this day to culminate in readings on the Hanover Theatre stage by two or three nation- ally known poets—with ties to Elizabeth Bishop.
Scholars will be presenting their work during the last half of 2011: Lloyd Schwartz on Bishop’s prose works; Camille Roman on EB’s year in Washington DC, during the Cold War; Tom Travisano on the Bishop- Lowell correspondence; Kathleen Spivack on her relationship with Bishop in Cambridge & Boston; Joelle Biele on Elizabeth Bishop & the New Yorker.
A late addition to the Centenary calendar is a program geared for medial students at Worcester’s University of Massachusetts Medical School, but of general interest as well. It features Ron Strauss, M. D. in San Francisco, who uses Bishop’s poems with parenthetical remarks to teach his med students to listen carefully, not only to the first thing a patient says, but to follow-up statements as well. Strauss reports that his med students come away with an appreciation of Bishop, and of poetry in general.
For a complete listing of EB Centenary events, see the website of the Worcester County Poetry Association, htttp://wcpa.homestead.com
ALA in Boston
The annual conference was held May 26-29 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel, and the Elizabeth Bishop Society panel featured “Elizabeth Bishop: Literary Friendship and Epistolary Art.”
Chair: Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College
1. ”On Anthrax, Air Force, and Epistolary Affects: Bishop Writes from Washington,” Heather Treseler, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2. “’Querina Linda’… Elizabeth Bishop’s Letters in Portuguese to Linda Nemer,” Barbara Page, Vassar College
3. “Bishop, Swenson, and Correspondent Gifts,” Siobhan Phillips, Dickinson College / Harvard Society of Fellows
“It must be Nova Scotia”
Sandra Barry, Halifax
EB 100 Celebrations continue through 2011, peaking with a conference on “Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop” at the University of King’s College, Halifax from June 10-12, 2011. Festivities began with the Scotia Festival Concert: including the World Premiere of Dinuk Wijeratne’s setting of Bishop’s “Brazil, January 1, 1502” Dunn Theatre, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Friday 10 June: 9:00—10:30 a.m. Sessions
Key West, Chair: Ross Leckie
Zachariah Wells, University of New Brunswick, “The Literary Litter of the Littoral-Minded: Elizabeth Bishop’s Ideas of Disorder at Key West”
Adele Barclay, McGill University, “Subjective Geographies: Questions of Epistemology, Poetry, and Place in Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetry and Letters”
Marvin Campbell, University of Virginia, “‘Doing More with Key West’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Hemispheric Turn”
Translation, Chair: John Barnstead
Orlando Jose Hernandez, Hostos Community College-CUNY, “Elizabeth Bishop and Translation: A Geography of Cultural Exchanges”
Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese, University of Copenhagan, “How Clouds Change Shape in Eighteen Words:
‘Sestina’ and its Two Polish Translations”
Shao-Pin Luo, Dalhousie University, “The ‘One Art’ of Translation: A Comparative Analysis of Chinese Translations of Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’”
Friday 10 June: 11:00a.m.—12:30 p.m. Sessions
Geography IV, Chair: Susie DeCoste
Linda Anderson, Newcastle University, UK, “Dubious Topography: Space and Time in Bishop’s ‘The End of March’”
J.R. Carpenter, University College Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, “Writing Coastlines: Estuaries, Islands and Beaches in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop”
Kelly C. MacPhail, Université de Montreal, “Geography of the Poem: Elizabeth Bishop’s Form and the Production of Meaning”
Bishop and Others (Herbert, Hopkins, Moore, Auden, Heaney),
Chair: Brian Bartlett
Jonathan Ellis, University of Sheffield, UK, “Bishop’s England”
Vidyan Ravinthiran, Balliol College, Oxford, UK, “Auden and Bishop: Another Look at ‘At the Fishhouses’”
Connor O’Callaghan, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, “Hyphens by Hopkins: The Compounding Influence of Hopkins on Bishop, of Bishop on Heaney”
1:30—2:30 p.m. Reminiscences of Elizabeth Bishop Alexander MacLeod in conversation with David Staines about Elizabeth Bishop.
3:00—4:30 p.m. Sessions
On “Crusoe in England,” Chair: Peter O’Brien Sue Goyette reading: “On Hearing Elizabeth Bishop
Read Her ‘Crusoe in England’”
David Wheatley, University of Hull, UK, “‘Now I live here, another island’: Elizabeth Bishop, ‘Crusoe in England’, and the Importance of Elsewhere”
Sara Meyer, Gordon College of Education, Haifa, Israel, “The ‘Un-Rediscovered, Un-Renamable’ Island— Exile, Placenessess, and the Poetics of Autobiography in Bishop’s ‘Crusoe in England’”
Miniature and Maternal, Chair: Len Diepeveen
Anne Shifrer, Utah State University, “Home Bodies: The Somatic in Elizabeth Bishop’s May Swenson’s Recollections of Home”
Anne Koval, Mount Allison University, “The Miniature World of Elizabeth Bishop”
7:30—9:30 p.m. Colm Tóibín on Elizabeth Bishop.
Saturday 11 June: 9:00 – 10:30 Sessions
Space, Orientation and Disorientation Chair: Louise Burley
David Jarraway, University of Ottawa, “‘The Play Between the Spaces’: Elizabeth Bishop, Frank Gehry, and The Problematic of ‘Home’”
Paola Nardi, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, “Creolized spaces in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop”
Ross Leckie, University of New Brunswick, “Disorientation, Blank Spots, and Vertigo in the Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop”
Money and Science Chair: Cynthia Messenger, University of Toronto
Eric Lindstrom, University of Vermont, “Money, Painting, and ‘Poem’: Elizabeth Bishop’s World Picture”
Leslie Wooten, Arizona State University, “Elizabeth Bishop: Revisioning Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection”
Kristen Reed, University College – Virginia Commonwealth University, “Symmetry and Self: Martin Gardner, Elizabeth Bishop, and ‘The Gentleman of Shalott’”
10:45 a.m. – Loading of bus
11:00 a.m. – Depart for Great Village
12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Great Village
12:30—2:30 p.m. Box lunch pick up – St. James United Church – Great Village and the Elizabeth Bishop House
— Tour Guides: Sandra Barry, Jonathan Ellis
2:30—4:00 p.m. Session
Sanctuary, St. James United Church
Literally In the Village
Chair: Sandra Barry
Brian Bartlett reading “In Bishop’s Village”
Tomas Travisano, Hartwick College, “Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of Three Nations?”
Michiru Oguchi, Japan, “The ‘Pitch’ of the Village”
Susie DeCoste, University of Waterloo, “‘How Late to Have Begun Your Travels!: Maritime Regional Identity in Bishop’s ‘Memories of Uncle Neddy’”
4:15 p.m. – Depart from Great Village
5:45 p.m. – Arrive in Halifax
Marie Claire Blais on Elizabeth Bishop
Sunday 12 June, 2011: 9:00—10:30 a.m. Sessions
Chair: Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University
Sandra Barry, “Shipwrecks and Housewrecks: Elizabeth Bishop’s Sable Island Journal”
Silvia Maria Guerra Anastásio, Federal University of Bahai, “A Haven for Elizabeth Bishop.”
Corey Clawson, Utah State University, “Poetic Fly-ways: Birds as Poets and Travelers in the Poetry and Correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and May Swenson”
Ekphrasis, Rhetoric and Autobiograpy
Chair: Deborah Kennedy
Joshua Steffey, Marquette University, “Elizabeth Bishop Looking: Portraits of the Artist as a Blind Woman”
Cynthia Messenger, University of Toronto, “The Rhetoric of an American Voice in Bishop’s Letters and Verse”
Andre Furlani, Concordia University, “‘irrepairable (rhyme)’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Homesickness”
11:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m.
Finale: Round Table
Chair: Alexander MacLeod
Participants: Eleanor Cook, Suzie LeBlanc, Colm Tóibín, Thomas Travisano
2:00-3:30p.m., Halifax Harbour Cruise
Together with participants from the “a past that never has been present”: International Art – Philosophy – History Conference (www.originarypast.ca) aboard the Mar II Departure from Queen’s Wharf (behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street). Free of charge (with cash bar on board).
Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia’s “Home-Made” Poet. Sandra Barry. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2011. 121 pp.
Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century. Edited by Angus Cleghorn, Bethany Hicok and Thomas Travisano. Forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press, 2012.
Global Studies Conference
The fourth annual Global Studies Conference takes place at the JW Marriot Hotel, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from 18-20 July. The 2011 Global Studies Conference will address a range of critically important ideas relating to globalization in the world today, as well as focusing on a special theme – Latin America and Globalization: Emerging Societies and Emancipation.
The conference will include a colloquium panel on “Elizabeth Bishop and Globalization in the 1950s and 1960s: A North American Poet in Brazil:”
Chair: Neil Besner, University of Winnipeg
Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College, “Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of Three Nations?”
Bethany Hicok, Westminster College, “Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazilian Translations.”
Angus Cleghorn, Seneca College, “The Politics of Editing Bishop’s 1962 Brazil Volume for Time-Life.”
Gillian White, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Bishop’s Mid-Century Critique of the Global U.S.”
Bishop’s views of mid-century North and South America came from living in Canada, United States and Brazil; she wrote a geographical poetics revealing national biases in an early period of globalization.
Bishop’s major volume from 1965, Questions of Travel, positions her speaker as tourist and conquistador to question history’s colonial presence in Brazil. Most commonly a witness, Bishop questions the anthropological role of appropriating indigenous people. Imperialism is challenged precisely when the U.S.A. increases superpower status, and material progress depends on the multinational proliferation of advertised goods. Foreign objects are often a source of humour in her Brazilian poetry.
Bishop lives in several Brazilian houses with Lota de Macedo Soares, designer of Flamenco Park in Rio de Janeiro. These women are immersed in Brazilian politics; Bishop learns Portuguese and her poetry strives to understand Brazil through its vital life, writers, culture, history, mythology and social diagnosis. Time-Life World Library commissioned Bishop to produce a volume entitled Brazil.
Bishop’s correspondence with North American artists at this time also reveals a cultural critique of American homogeneity, modernization and rhetoric. Through her Brazilian work, we find a mid-century synopsis along a North-South axis, from which contemporary Americas emerge.
|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