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Elizabeth Bishop Biography

(1911–79), Collected Prose, North & South, Poems: North & South / A Cold Spring

poetry poems south ‘the

American poet, born in Worcester, Massachusetts, educated at Vassar College, New York; she was brought up from early infancy by her grandparents after her father died and her mother became chronically ill. She spent her first six years in Great Village, Nova Scotia, which is vividly recalled in her short story ‘Primer Class’, then returned to Worcester. The poetry she wrote as a student includes ‘The Flood’ and ‘Some Dreams They Forgot’, works in which her characteristic combination of an almost casual tone and idiosyncratic meticulousness of form is already apparent. In 1934 she began her lasting friendship with Marianne Moore, with whose poetry her own has in common its purposive and precise richness of concrete imagery and its qualities of deft moral implication; ‘Efforts of Affection’, a memoir of Moore, is included in her Collected Prose of 1984. North & South (1946), her first collection of verse, was widely acclaimed. The poems were reprinted with eighteen additional pieces, including ‘At the Fishhouses’, one of her best-known works, as Poems: North & South / A Cold Spring in 1955. She held the post of Poetry Consultant at the Library of Congress in 194950 and was resident in Brazil between 1951 and 1966. Questions of Travel (1965) contains poetry vividly informed by her experiences of South America. Brazilian folklore and the exotic fecundity of her natural surroundings are adapted to disquientingly intense effect in ‘The Riverman’. Her ability to embody a sense of mystery in sharply delineated imagery is equally evident in ‘The Man-Moth’, ‘A Letter To N. Y.’, and other poems. ‘Visits to St Elizabeth's’, a memorable account of her meetings with Ezra Pound during his post-war confinement, also appears in the volume of 1965. Geography III (1976), her last collection of poetry, featured work of new emotional directness and meditative eloquence. Complete Poems, 1927–1979 was published in 1984.

John Peale Bishop Biography - (1892–1944), The Undertaker's Garland, This Side of Paradise, Green Fruit, Now with His Love [next]

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