The lonely life of Elizabeth Bishop

(K. Brent Tomer),

Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell: life’s a beach

Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast. By Megan Marshall. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 365 pages; $30.

ELIZABETH BISHOP did not like to give much away about herself. While others were writing confessional poetry, she ensured that she wrote at a distance. Poems which in original drafts mentioned characteristics of a lover were revised, sometimes as many as 17 times, in order to make the final work as polished and as impersonal as possible. She was a lesbian who never publicly admitted to the term, even as younger gay poets in the 1970s embraced it (partners were friends or even a “secretary”). She was an alcoholic who was ashamed of her drinking, but never sought long-term treatment. Poetry was a way of “thinking with one’s feelings”, but those feelings were often obscured, hidden within a parenthesis or written from the perspective of someone very different from herself. This is why she makes a fascinating subject for a biographer.

“A Miracle for Breakfast”, the first full-length biography in two decades, ably manages to…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC The lonely life of Elizabeth Bishop


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