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Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The crisis of our lives do not come, I think, accurately dated; they crop up unexpected and out of turn, and somehow or other arrange themselves to a calendar we cannot control.” Elizabeth Bishop

Virginia Woolf bases her novel Mrs. Dalloway on the idea that one day in a person’s life summarizes an entire life. In a similar way, one piece of art can summarize an artist’s work. One self-portrait by Van Gogh expresses something about all his paintings. And one poem can sum up something about a poet’s work. That poem for Elizabeth Bishop was her villanelle, One Art. In many of her poems I hear a similar theme of loss. It became the crisis of her life, and we hear the making of that poem in much of her work.

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