Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop

Overview

This book brings together almost all of the known interviews Elizabeth Bishop gave over a period of thirty years. Included also are a few selected pieces based on conversations with her. All together they allow her ardent and admiring readers a rewarding, close-up encounter with one of America's great writers.

In this collection of conversations Bishop expresses her opinions about various types of poetry, describes her view of the geography of the imagination in the writing ...

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Overview

This book brings together almost all of the known interviews Elizabeth Bishop gave over a period of thirty years. Included also are a few selected pieces based on conversations with her. All together they allow her ardent and admiring readers a rewarding, close-up encounter with one of America's great writers.

In this collection of conversations Bishop expresses her opinions about various types of poetry, describes her view of the geography of the imagination in the writing process, defends her often criticized feminist views, and discusses her role as teacher and poet.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) won many prizes for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. She was graduated from Vassar, where she knew Mary McCarthy. She taught at Harvard, New York University, and the University of Washington and was a long-time resident in Brazil.

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Editorial Reviews

Donna Seaman
Admirers of Elizabeth Bishop have reveled in "One Art" (1994), a collection of her letters, and will find much of value in this lively collection of interviews spanning 25 years of the poet's very literary life. Bishop dazzled and enlightened such sophisticated interviewers as Edward Lucie-Smith, Tom Robbins, Anna Quindlen, and David McCullough at various stages in her poetic evolution. She notes that she writes most often about "geography" and animals, identifies her influences--George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore--and, an ardent feminist, bristles at being labeled the "greatest feminine poet of the decade" in 1970. Childhood memories surface, as do amusing stories about occupying the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress in 1950, living in Brazil, and, of course, reading and writing poetry. There is much heart and wit in these conversations, but some of the most disarming glimpses into Bishop's personality are found in the volume's final piece, Dana Gioia's vivid "Studying with Miss Bishop," a delightful description of Bishop's unforgettable approach to teaching poetry at Harvard.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878058716
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Series: Literary Conversations Series
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Read an Excerpt

I:How long do you carry a poem in your head before committing it to paper?

Elizabeth Bishop:From 10 minutes to 40 years. One of the few good qualitiesI think I have as a poet is patience. I have endless patience. Sometimes I feel I should be angry at myself for being willing to wait 20 years for a poem to get finished, but I don't think a good poet can afford to be in a rush.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chronology
U.S. Poetry Chair Holder Tell How She Courts the Muse 3
Pulitzer Prize Poet Lives in Petropolis 8
No Jokes in Portuguese 12
Elizabeth Bishop: The Poetess, the Cashew, and Micucu 14
An Interview with Elizabeth Bishop 18
Poet Adds to List of Interesting Things 30
Now Playing: A Touch of the Poetess 33
Elizabeth Bishop: Conversations and Class Notes 38
Ouro Preto: Springtime at the Winter Festival 47
Poetry as a Way of Life 50
Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Visits UW 54
Book and Author: Elizabeth Bishop 57
Reading Scares Poet Bishop 59
A Conversation with Elizabeth Bishop 62
A Poet Who Doesn't Wear Her Woes 69
David W. McCullough's Eye on Books 72
Poetry Born Out of Suffering 74
A Conversation with Elizabeth Bishop 82
Geography of the Imagination 98
Elizabeth Bishop, Observer of Poetry 105
Elizabeth Bishop Speaks about Her Poetry 107
Women Writers in America 111
The Art of Poetry, XXVII: Elizabeth Bishop 114
Elizabeth Bishop's Library: A Reminiscence 133
Studying with Miss Bishop 139
Index 157
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