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Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... common – Marianne Moore, Katherine Anne Porter, Rebecca West, P.L. Travers, Simone de Beauvoir, Elizabeth Bishop, Nadine Gordimer and Anne Sexton, who appear in the volume alongside the writers already mentioned – is that they are not men, which is not as tautological a proposition as it looks. Being a woman writer is only partly a matter of how any ...
Selected Poems 
by James Merrill.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £9.95, April 1996, 1 85754 228 2
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... That the English have been slow to recognise James Merrill as the best poet in the language after Elizabeth Bishop has long seemed strange to Americans. Come to think of it, British recognition of Bishop herself was belated; for decades she was upstaged by Robert Lowell, probably because he lived in England and behaved in a way that seemed more certifiably poetic ...

My Americas

Donald Davie, 3 September 1981

... on the evidence of directions taken by several serious poets (Robert Lowell and Robert Bly, Elizabeth Bishop and Ed Dorn are those who come to mind) – that the North American imagination is beginning to define its identity no longer on a West-East axis, across the Atlantic to Europe, but North-South, across the Rio Grande and down to Buenos ...

How Diamond Felts ended up in the mud

A.O. Scott: Annie Proulx, 9 December 1999

Close Range: Wyoming Stories 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £12, June 1999, 1 85702 942 9
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... native Vermont. The Shipping News was infused with the foggy chill of Maritime Canada – what Elizabeth Bishop called ‘the narrow provinces of fish and bread and tea’, where Proulx’s ancestors had come from. It is, however, a constitutional prerogative of American writers to reinvent themselves, regardless of age. And the regionalist impulse in ...

Wobble in My Mind

Colm Tóibín: Lizzie, Cal and Caroline, 7 May 2020

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-79: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell and Their Circle 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 560 pp., £35, January, 978 0 571 35741 3
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The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-73 
by Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., £11.99, December 2019, 978 0 374 53827 9
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... In April​ 1970, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick – both aged 53, married for 21 years – had just been on holiday together in Italy with their 13-year-old daughter, Harriet. Hardwick and Harriet had come home to New York, where Hardwick taught at Barnard College; Lowell had gone to Oxford to take up a fellowship at All Souls ...

Erasures

Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... the dirt, and spat, Turning away abruptly, out of respect. Justice was not prolific; like Elizabeth Bishop, with whom he has much in common, he devoted his life to the perfection of a small body of deceptively modest poems. His work exhibits little of the ostentatious virtuosity of better-known formalists such as Richard Wilbur and Anthony ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... he little believes, who aye in winsome life/Abides ’midst burghers some heavy business’). Elizabeth Bishop is a delight to read; Thom Gunn contributes a charming piece on surfriding; and Marianne Moore, considering the sea as a grave, has a linethe birds swim through the air top speed,            uttering catcalls as hereforethat ...

I am them

Richard Wollheim, 7 October 1993

Love of Beginnings 
by J.-B. Pontalis, translated by James Greene and Marie-Christine Régius.
Free Association, 260 pp., £13.95, May 1993, 9781853431296
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... of a novel by Aldous Huxley or Simone de Beauvoir. It is about as full of gossip as a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. In composing his autobiography, Pontalis made a very explicit choice of genre. He cast it, deliberately and decisively, in the lyrical, not in the narrative, mode. Indeed, not only would it be impossible to reconstruct even the outlines of ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South).’ The book they were talking about was Douglas Crase’s The Revisionist. Out of print for almost forty years, it has now been reissued (Carcanet, £12.99) in a volume that also includes Crase’s only other collection of ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... and helpless to fix the damage. He was married three times: to Jean Stafford from 1940 to 1948, to Elizabeth Hardwick from 1949 to 1972 and to Caroline Blackwood from 1972 to his death in 1977. With Hardwick he had a daughter, Harriet, and with Blackwood a son, Sheridan; he was also stepfather to Blackwood’s three daughters. Towards the end of his marriage ...

Other Selves

John Bayley, 29 October 1987

How I Grew 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 297 79170 2
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Myself and Michael Innes 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 575 04104 8
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... such friends and rivals and enemies at Vassar have become dimmer than the shades. One of them was Elizabeth Bishop the poet, always known as plain ‘Bishop’, who lived next to the John on her corridor in the college, and wrote a little poem beginning: ‘Ladies and gents, ladies and gents, flushing away your ...

Paulin’s People

Edward Said, 9 April 1992

Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 298 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 571 16308 4
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... like Clare, obstinate linguistic feminists like Emily Dickinson, First World writers like Elizabeth Bishop with Third World imaginations, Eastern European activists and ‘wakers-up’ like Holub and Herbert, deconstructive poets of soccer-violence Britain like Peter Reading. Opposed to them are a number of predictable villains ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... storytellers like Robert Stone and Joyce Carol Oates. He got mugged by realism. He realised that Elizabeth Bowen is just as good as Virginia Woolf but without the ‘affected prose style’, and that the selling of high art is ‘just one more form of commercialism’. The break came when he was assigned to review a collection by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The ...

Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary

Mark Ford: Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary, 29 November 2007

... The earliest poem collected in Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box, Alice Quinn’s edition of Elizabeth Bishop’s miscellaneous drafts and fragments, opens: I introduce Penelope Gwin, A friend of mine through thick and thin, Who’s travelled much in foreign parts Pursuing culture and the arts. ‘And also,’ says Penelope ‘This family life is not for me ...

Dazzling Philosophy

Michael Hofmann, 15 August 1991

Seeing things 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 113 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 571 14468 3
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... to like them. Stylistically, Seeing things is plain as plain, sometimes ‘awful plain’ (Elizabeth Bishop, ‘The Moose’). The gutturals of early Heaney are long gone, and now also the suave Latinity – or Latin suavity – of what one can now call his mid-period. The poems have the most pedestrian beginnings, often stumbling over ...

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