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One Art: The Selected Letters

4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  311 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
One Art is the best biography we have of the elusive Elizabeth Bishop. Robert Giroux, her editor and friend, has chosen well--and discreetly--from among the poet's several thousand letters. The collection begins with correspondence she wrote while still at Vassar in the '30s and ends with a letter written on the day she died, October 6, 1979. ("Well, I could go on--but I w ...more
Hardcover, 520 pages
Published 1994 by Chatto & Windus
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Rochelle Melander
Jan 06, 2015 Rochelle Melander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For many years, I have loved the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. I was delighted to find this riveting collection of her letters. Kirkus reviews said this about the carefully selected collection of letters: "More spontaneous, garrulous, and revealing than her published poetry or prose, ... " The letters offer an intimate portrait of the writer, her struggles with health and loneliness, her great love for her partner Lola, and fascinating details about her daily life.
Tim
Mar 02, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know you're a reader when you devour the letters: thin paper and volumes of it. I wrote this one out in the Green Notebook in 1994:

"It really is fantastic to place so much on the fact that I have wirten a half-dozen phrases that I can still bear to reread without too much embarrassment.But I have that continuous uncomfortable feeling of 'things' in the head, like icebergs or rocks or awkwardly place pieces of furniture. It's as if all the nouns were there but the verbs were lacking--if you k
...more
Erin Malone
This is one of those books that brings out the compulsive side of me. I read every letter--even the most mundane, and there were many of those: doctor's visits, housekeeping, etc. Since Bishop is among my favorite poets, I was compelled to read everything, not wanting to miss a shred of her life story. The letters work like puzzles; we have only Bishop's, so we have to piece together what she's responding to. That's partly what's so interesting. As with any real person, though, there are sides o ...more
Chess via Email
Jan 12, 2008 Chess via Email rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I still don't like her or her asshead high school (I had to pump sixteen inches of water out of a basement there last night and am sitting in the basement of her old dorm as I write this (I think)), but a lifetime of letters is almost always an incredible thing. This set got me very interested in Marianne Moore.

P.S. I think the choice of last letter was unfortunate--even if it was written on the day of her death.

P.P.S. She didn't like Charlotte's Web?!?!?!

P.P.P.S. They engraved an E.E. Cummings
...more
Kate Quartz
Apr 24, 2015 Kate Quartz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I want to read this again, to remember how amazing the world was while I was living in her words.
Charlotte
Nov 06, 2007 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets, letter-writers, animals-lovers, Brazil
Bishop's favorite show was Sesame Street. This is only one of the many amazing things I found out. While there are long sad sections, many of these letters contain hilarious asides and comments. Her descriptions of Brazil and the many other places she traveled make me want to get on a plane immediately. I love reading this book, and the David Kalstone is a great companion book that explains a lot of biographical details, as well as critically dissecting Bishop's relationships with Moore and Lowe ...more
Gord Higginson
May 06, 2011 Gord Higginson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Currently still reading (and have been since Jan 2011)--appropriate time to read her selected letters as Bishop was born 100 years ago! I have been browse-reading this hefty tome since Jan., meaning I just look through it every now and then and read some letters, usually a few times a week, rather than reading it from beginning to end in one go. Fascinating letters.
Rita
Nov 24, 2012 Rita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure how long it will take me to finish the book but the letters are compelling. I am in Bishop's early years now and can't wait to see how she will craft her correspondence as she matures. Obviously a woman who knew how to bring out the best in a language.
Statmanm
Nov 19, 2012 Statmanm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe best for THE EB fan. But in here is so much deep knowledge not only on the art of reading and writing poetry but the art of understanding how one is living wholly in that lived moment.
Frank
Jun 23, 2008 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Great poet and very interesting woman - learning how difficult it is for brilliant talent to survive and flourish.
Laura
Feb 06, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic

I just read her unpublished poems in a new edition: Edgar Allen Poe and the Jukebox. Also fantastic
Jenni
Jul 27, 2007 Jenni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetsandpoetry
Pretty good as far as letters go. The ones between her and "Cal" (Robert Lowell) are the most interesting.
Tricia
Jun 24, 2008 Tricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not exactly a bio, but a fascinating collection of letters from two seminal 20th century poets.
Deb W
Dec 18, 2013 Deb W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for anyone entranced by the world of literature and artists.
Celeste
Jan 05, 2011 Celeste is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this for an Poetry Writing Workshop
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and writer from Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956. and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. She is considered one of the most importa
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“The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”
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