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Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop’s Edgar Allan Poe and the Jukebox: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments, edited by Alice Quinn, will be published by Farrar, Straus in March.

Poem: ‘Apartment in Leme’

Elizabeth Bishop, 26 January 2006

1. Off to the left, those islands, named and renamed so many times now everyone’s forgotten their names, are sleeping.

Pale rods of light, the morning’s implements, lie in among them tarnishing already, just like our knives and forks.

Because we live at your open mouth, oh Sea, with your cold breath blowing warm, your warm breath cold, like in the fairy tale.

Not only do you...

Elizabeth Bishop

Michael Hofmann, 8 September 2011

It is John Ashbery who takes the cake – in this case, the triple-decker cake with the solitary little sugar bride on top – for his description of Elizabeth Bishop: she is ‘the...

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Bishop v. Lowell

Colm Tóibín, 14 May 2009

Robert Lowell wrote the poem ‘Water’ about being on the coast of Maine in the summer of 1948 with Elizabeth Bishop; he put it first in his collection For the Union Dead, which he...

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The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop

Gillian White, 25 May 2006

In 1940, after she’d gained the admiration of Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams, and had had nearly thirty of her poems published in literary journals or book collections,...

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The South

Colm Tóibín, 4 August 1994

Even in the morning in that year the two-hour hotels were in bloom. The city was full of desire. It was hot. I stayed for a while in a narrow street near the Flamingo Park and went out some days...

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Good Manners

Craig Raine, 17 May 1984

Elizabeth Bishop was refined. Manners interested her, as The Collected Prose makes clear. She can remember learning ‘how to behave in school’ with more recall than most people:...

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Sweet Home

Susannah Clapp, 19 May 1983

Elizabeth Bishop’s great gift was to perfect a way of writing about human procedures and concerns without talking chiefly about human behaviour. Her poems are intelligent, supple, grave and...

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