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From under the Duvet

Anna Vaux, 4 September 1997

Out Of Me: The Story of a Postnatal Breakdown 
by Fiona Shaw.
Viking, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 670 87104 4
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... will see that language like that would not appeal to Shaw. A graduate student with a thesis on Elizabeth Bishop, married to an academic who was her tutor before he was her husband, Shaw prefers a slightly archaic, sometimes Elizabethan diction. She talks about ‘the burden’ in her ‘belly’, and ‘giving suck’ to her baby; and comes up with ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... agree – but it’s become less plausible to rank Duncan’s work with that of Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop or the Roberts Lowell and Creeley, all of whom were born within a decade of him. I don’t imagine that even his most enthusiastic supporters would put his influence anywhere near that of John Ashbery, who seems pretty securely the major ...

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 ...


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 ...

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 ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... much more arbitrary than the longer critical haul of a century or two. For instance, shares in Elizabeth Bishop (d. 1979) are at an all-time high, helped by the timely publication of her letters; while shares in Philip Larkin (d. 1985) are at an all-time low, helped by the untimely publication of his ditto. Graham Greenes (d. 1991) are on the way ...


Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist, 22 May 2008

... process and not so simple larceny. Between process and, oh – just ‘write it!’ (to quote Elizabeth Bishop) – plagiarism. The answer, by way of explanation for which I offer the following narrative (or confession), is ‘no.’ Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that all such confessions are deceptive. To quote J.D. Salinger ...

Take a pig’s head, add one spoonful of medium rage

Iain Bamforth: The poetry of Günter Grass, 28 October 1999

Selected Poems: 1956-93 
by Günter Grass, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Faber, 155 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 0 571 19518 0
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... of these years is quite clear, much as it is in American poets writing at the same time, like Elizabeth Bishop; it is Oskar’s legacy, the intrusion of self-consciousness. Given Grass’s involvement with the Social Democrats, and the hundreds of podium speeches he delivered for them in the 1965 electoral campaign, the publication of his third book ...

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 ...

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