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Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Elizabeth Bishop dedicated her poetry to telling “what really happened.” Yet what really happened in the life on one of the twentieth century's finest and most beloved American poets has eluded readers for years. In this first full biography, Brett Miller pieces together the compelling and painful story of Bishop's life and traces the writing of her brilliantly crafted poe ...more
Paperback, 602 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by University of California Press (first published February 14th 1992)
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Catherine Meng
"Of course it was the birds going South. They were high up, a fairly large sort of bird, I couldn't tell what, but almost speck-like, paying no attention to even the highest trees or steeples. They spread across a wide swath of sky, each rather alone, and at first their wings seemed all to be beating perfectly together. But by watching one bird, then another, I saw that some flew a little slower than others, some were trying to get ahead and some flew at an individual rubato; each seemed a varia ...more
M. D.  Hudson
Terrific biography of a terrific poet. Biographies usually leave me feeling clammy and soiled, and this one is not much different...poets seem singularly miserable to me. Maybe everybody is. Anyway, good book. Read the poems too.
I never got turned toward Elizabeth Bishop until I went to see the Dear Elizabeth play at the Berkeley Rep last week. It was very well done! By Sarah Ruhl, and a s***load of water hits the stage more than once, yet no one in the audience got wet!

The biography has a completely different tone than the play. The play tarted up a potential romantic but star-crossed love between Bishop and Robert Lowell.

The biography was dark, telling the sad and desperate story of the parentless, asthmatic, alcohol
Barbara Melosh
Well researched and well written critical biography, with sensitive reading of the poems; Millier also offers a broader literary history through her portrayal of the changing commitments and practices of twentieth century poetry. Beautifully designed too, by Univ. of California press--on good paper, with elegant design and handsome font.
Caroline Cottom
I loved this book. This is an incredible work of bringing together the poetry of Bishop with her letters and life experiences in Brazil and the U.S. As a poet myself, I am awed by Bishop's "eye," her ability to see things fresh always. In this book, the reader is able to follow Bishop in her development of poems over 20 or more years--even for a single poem!
I love "Miss Bishop"! "Awful but cheerful," she's smart, funny, and sad.
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