reading (about) Elizabeth Bishop

August 27, 2016

Elizabeth Bishop

If you are a fan of Elizabeth Bishop or if you muse on the mysterious interweaving of a poet’s life and writing, you may want to visit “One Long Poem” by Heather Treseler, published last week in the Boston Review.

The article talks in particular about three (unpublished) letters written by Bishop to her psychiatrist, Dr. Ruth Foster, in 1947, placing their forthright language in contrast to Bishop’s reticent poetic style. It’s a very well-written article and worth your time.

In considering how letters and diaries contribute to (or detract from) the understanding of a poet’s work, compare “How to Lose Things: Elizabeth Bishop’s Child Mourning,” a scholarly article by Diana Fuss published in Post45. Fuss focuses on the presence or absence of mourning in Bishop’s poetry, and one can’t help but wonder how Bishop’s letters might have altered Fuss’s reading of the poems. (If she read them, she does not mention that fact.)

Read more in the Fall 2014 Bulletin of the Elizabeth Bishop Society, and “Approaching Elizabeth Bishop’s Letters to Ruth Foster” by Lorrie Goldensohn is available for rent/purchase from The Yale Review, with additional comments by Goldensohn in the Fall 2015 EBS Bulletin.
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