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"Visibility is Poor": Elizabeth Bishop's Obsessive Imagery and Mystical Unsaying
by Katie Ford
Elizabeth Bishop's 'New' Poems
by Lloyd Schwartz
Groundbreaking Book: Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop (1977)
Life Studies: American Poetry from T. S. Eliot to Allen Ginsberg
Poetry Landmark: The Poet Homes of Key West, FL
Poet Translators
Charles Simic
Clayton Eshleman
Robert Bly
Rosmarie Waldrop
W. S. Merwin
Related Poets
Frank Bidart
Marianne Moore
Robert Lowell
Lesson Plans
Women in Poetry
External Links
boldtype: Elizabeth Bishop
Audio clip of Bishop reading "The Man-Moth" and an essay by Ernest Hilbert.
Elizabeth Bishop
An audio introduction to the poetry, for general readers, by Huck Gutman, Professor of English at the University of Vermont.
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Resources prepared and compiled by Robert Dale Parker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Edward Brunner, Southern Illinois University; and Cary Nelson.
Elizabeth Bishop, American poet
Exhibit from Vassar College.
Spotlight on Voices & Visions
This sites contains clips of Elizabeth Bishop from the Voices and Visions video series and links to other websites about her.
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Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop was born on February 8, 1911, in Worcester, Massachusetts. When she was very young her father died, her mother was committed to a mental asylum, and she was sent to live with her grandparents in Nova Scotia. She earned a bachelor's degree from Vassar College in 1934.

She was independently wealthy, and from 1935 to 1937 she spent time traveling to France, Spain, North Africa, Ireland, and Italy and then settled in Key West, Florida, for four years. Her poetry is filled with descriptions of her travels and the scenery which surrounded her, as with the Florida poems in her first book of verse, North and South, published in 1946.

She was influenced by the poet Marianne Moore, who was a close friend, mentor, and stabilizing force in her life. Unlike her contemporary and good friend Robert Lowell, who wrote in the "confessional" style, Bishop's poetry avoids explicit accounts of her personal life, and focuses instead with great subtlety on her impressions of the physical world.

Her images are precise and true to life, and they reflect her own sharp wit and moral sense. She lived for many years in Brazil, communicating with friends and colleagues in America only by letter. She wrote slowly and published sparingly (her Collected Poems number barely a hundred), but the technical brilliance and formal variety of her work is astonishing. For years she was considered a "poet's poet," but with the publication of her last book, Geography III, in 1976, Bishop was finally established as a major force in contemporary literature.

She received the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for her collection, Poems: North & South/A Cold Spring. Her Complete Poems won the National Book Award in 1970. That same year, Bishop began teaching at Harvard University, where she worked for seven years.

Elizabeth Bishop was awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets in 1964 and served as a Chancellor from 1966 to 1979. She died in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in 1979, and her stature as a major poet continues to grow through the high regard of the poets and critics who have followed her.

A Selected Bibliography


North and South (1946)
Poems: North and South—A Cold Spring (1955)
Poems (1956)
Questions of Travel (1965)
The Ballad of the Burglar of Babylon (1968)
The Complete Poems (1969)
Poem (1973)
Geography III (1977)
The Complete Poems 1927-1979 (1983)
Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments (2006)
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (2008)


Brazil (1962)
The Diary of Helena Morley (1977)
The Collected Prose (1984)
One Art: Letters (1993)


Anthology of Twentieth Century Brazilian Poetry (with Emmanuel Brasil)(1972)

Poems by
Elizabeth Bishop

At the Fishhouses
Filling Station
In the Waiting Room
Little Exercise
One Art
Over 2,000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance
Suicide of a Moderate Dictator
The Armadillo
The Fish
The Moose
Visits to St. Elizabeths

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