Compiled by Sandra BarryHalifax, Nova Scotia, 2009

Bishop returned to the United States in the late 1960s — finally settling in Boston in 1970. She felt it was a kind of full circle — but she seemed unable to get any further north, at least permanently. During the 1970s, however, she once again began to make nearly yearly visits to Nova Scotia. After avoiding the necessity for most of her adult life, Bishop began teaching in the late 1960s, and in the early 1970s she secured a position at Harvard where she remained until she retired (she also taught at M.I.T. and Columbia). In May 1979, just a few months before her death, Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., gave her an honorary degree. It was her last visit to Nova Scotia. She died of a brain aneurysm alone in her Lewis Wharf apartment on 6 October 1979.

, Baní, Prov. Peravia. República Dominicana.

What follows is an interview with Barbara Hammer, conducted over several months throughout 2015.

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The Sable Island trip occurred just a few months before she embarked on a sea voyage around the world — an archetypal journey — which, however, ended prematurely and turned into instead a nearly 20-year stay in Brazil. It can be argued that, among many other complex factors, one of the reasons why she remained in Brazil was because she felt at home. Brazil and the life she could lead there reminded her of Nova Scotia — the Nova Scotia of her childhood. It was the first real home she had known since her childhood. Many years later, she stated her own conclusion about this experience in a letter to Robert Lowell: “What I am really up to is re-creating a sort of de luxe Nova Scotia all over again, in Brazil. And now I’m my own grandmother” (Words in Air 676). For most of her time in Brazil she lived with her companion Lota de Macedo Soares. The depth of their love and the devastation of the loss when Lota committed suicide in 1967 resonate powerfully in Bishop’s late work. There were many women in Bishop’s life but only one other woman was as important to her as Lota — her mother.

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introduces facets of Bishop’s life through some of the houses where Bishop lived, featuring three of her most loved homes filmed on location in Brazil and the USA. Tracing Bishop’s relationships through these homes—in Key West with Louise Crane, in Samambaia with Lota Macedo Soares, and finally on her own at Ouro Preto—is part of a larger investigation for Hammer. Making women’s intimate lives visible has been an on-going focus for Hammer, and especially queer relationships where women’s intimacy has been historically erased, dismissed, minimized, or just completely sanitized. Bishop’s queerness was always an open secret, thoroughly steeped in poetic candor and uncompromising strides.

Elizabeth Bishop, The Collected Prose. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1984.
Elizabeth Bishop, One Art: Letters, ed. Robert Giroux. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1994.

Posts about Elizabeth Bishop written by bluedragonfly10 ..

The first of these events was the premature death of her father, William Thomas Bishop, on 12 October 1911, eight months after Elizabeth’s birth. Her mother, Gertrude Bulmer Bishop, struggled to maintain normal life for her infant daughter; but in 1914 she suffered a breakdown and was hospitalized for several months in Massachusetts. In 1915, Gertrude took Elizabeth to Great Village, N.S., where they lived with Gertrude’s parents, William and Elizabeth Bulmer.

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poets | Academy of American Poets

Due to frequent illness (she was an asthmatic) Bishop had little formal education during her early adolescence. She attended Saugus High School for one year and North Shore Country Day School in Swampscott in 1926–1927. In 1928 she entered Walnut Hill School (an exclusive boarding school) in Natick, Massachusetts. Although she had little formal education until boarding school Bishop’s earliest memories were of learning to read and write, of discovering literature, poetry, art and music, with the help of her maternal grandmother and aunts. And, of course, her first encounter with formal pedagogy was in the Great Village school, an experience she recounts in her delightful prose memoir “Primer Class.” Bishop’s precocious mind was shaped by the sights and sounds and experiences of rural Great Village and the immigrant suburban communities of the Boston area. In 1930 she entered Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1934 her mother died, she graduated and she met the poet Marianne Moore (a watershed year for the young poet). What began at this time was an extended period of restless travelling which lasted nearly two decades. She never settled anywhere for long — she lived in New York, Key West, Paris, Mexico and other places. And she began to suffer from increasingly frequent illness cause by chronic asthma and an intensifying alcoholism. She spent a significant amount of time in hospitals.

Paris Review Elizabeth Bishop The Art of Poetry No StudyNotes ie The Modernist Circle

Syllabus | Principles of Literary Study: Poetry


1:00pm – 2:30pm
Elizabeth Bishop and Modern Art

Two interdisciplinary lectures and a discussion with,
respectively, the editor of Exchanging Hats: Paintings by Elizabeth Bishop and the author of Deep Skin: Elizabeth Bishop and Visual Art.

William Benton and Peggy Samuels

3:00pm – 4:30pm
Editors' Roundtable

A discussion with the editors of recent collections of Bishop's poetry, prose and correspondence.

Joelle Biele, Saskia Hamilton, Alice Quinn, Lloyd Schwartz, and Thomas Travisano

Moderated by Jonathan Galassi

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Student Reading

Selected student participants will each read a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and a poem of their own written in response.

Introduction by poets Scott Hightower and Emily Fragos

6:30pm – 8:00pm
Celebratory Reading

Participating poets read and talk about favorite poems.

Frank Bidart, John Koethe, Yusef Komunyakaa, Maureen McLane, Mark Strand, and Jean Valentine