Poet Profiles: Elizabeth Bishop
By Ethan Shea
In celebration of National Poetry Month, this recurring Poet Profiles segment will introduce you to some of the best poetry Falvey has to offer.
This week will focus on the poems of Elizabeth Bishop, a writer with connections to our local community. Born in Massachusetts in 1911, Bishop was orphaned at a very young age and lived with grandparents in Nova Scotia before returning to New England a few years later.
Travel was characteristic of Bishop’s life. In fact, one of her trips was funded by a traveling fellowship from neighboring Bryn Mawr College, which allowed her to visit South America.
One of Bishop’s greatest influences was poet Marianne Moore, an established American modernist who Bishop became interested in during her time at Vassar College. Both poets are known for their critical attention to detail and witty descriptions of lived experience.
Some notable awards and honors Bishop received throughout her life include the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1970 National Book Award for Poetry, and two Guggenheim Fellowships in 1947 and 1978.
Later in life, Bishop lectured at several prominent American universities including the University of Washington, Harvard University, New York University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After her death at the age of 68, Bishop was buried in the historic Hope Cemetery of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her requested epitaph quotes the last two lines of her poem “The Bight”: “All the untidy activity continues, / awful but cheerful.”
Listed below are some resources related to Elizabeth Bishop you can find here at Falvey:
- The Complete Poems, 1927 – 1979 – Elizabeth Bishop
- Exchanging Hats: Paintings – Elizabeth Bishop
- Prose – Elizabeth Bishop
- Elizabeth Bishop and the New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence – Edited by Joelle Biele
- Elizabeth Bishop: The Biography of a Poetry – Lorrie Goldensohn
- Elizabeth Bishop: The Restraints of Language – Carole Kiler Doreski
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
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