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Poet Profiles: Elizabeth Bishop

By Ethan Shea

"Elizabeth Bishop"

Photo credit: New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (Library of Congress).

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:


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Poet Profiles: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

By Ethan Shea

"Frances Ellen Watkins Harper"

Engraving of Frances E.W. Harper from The Underground Railroad by William Still. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

To celebrate National Poetry Month, this recurring Poet Profiles segment will draw attention to some of the amazing poetry available through Falvey.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to a poet of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. In addition to being an accomplished poet, Harper is also a lecturer, author, women’s rights activist, and outspoken voice of the American anti-slavery movement.

Harper was born in Maryland, but by the age of 26, Harper left her state of origin to teach in Ohio and Pennsylvania. While away, Maryland passed a law prohibiting free African Americans from entering the state under threat of enslavement. As a Black woman, Harper could not return home. Moving forward, Harper dedicated her life to the abolitionist movement.

Harper is also the first African American woman to publish a short story in the United States. Additionally, by the age of 21, she had already written a volume of poetry titled Forest Leaves which was considered lost for more than 100 years but was eventually rediscovered.

As a member of the Women Christian Temperance Union, Harper was also an advocate for temperance, or abstaining from alcoholics drinks.

Frances E.W. Harper’s literature is intertwined with her activism and religious beliefs, making the experience of reading her work all the more rewarding from both a political and academic perspective.

Some of Harper’s most prominent pieces are her poem “Eliza Harris,” her 1866 speech “We Are All Bound Up Together,” and her short story “The Two Offers.”

Here are some resources where you can learn more about the life and work of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper:

If there are any poets you would like to see a poet profile about, please let us know in the comments!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Last Modified: April 13, 2023

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