Carol's Reviews > Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker by Elizabeth Bishop
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's review
Mar 12, 2011

really liked it

During one of my trips to Key West, a woman who was selling jewelry at Mallory Square said she lived in Elizabeth Bishop's house. I was not at that point very familiar with Bishop, but I thought that since I fancy myself a writer and Key West is one of my favorite vacation places, I should read more of her poetry.

Bishop is now the author of one of my favorite poems, One Art ( She occupies a perfect middle ground between my college-era favorite Marianne Moore (in fact, they knew each other well. "Friends" sounds like it would be a bit of a stretch to describe their relationship, but they certainly admired each other's work.) and my current favorite poets, Sharon Olds and Kay Ryan.

What I learned from reading her correspondence with various New Yorker staff was how gracious Bishop was about accepting advice from editors. Talk about One Art! I think we romanticize writers that say, "I wrote it and now it is perfect." I recently read a compilation of interviews with Katherine Anne Porter, and this was her attitude. But Bishop's correspondence shows that it is not a sign of weakness to take direction. Her letters also prove that people will always argue over commas.
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