Imtiaz Dharker reads “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Imtiaz Dharker reads One Art by Elizabeth BishopListen to the beautiful voice of the Pakistan-born Scottish poet Imtiaz Dharker read Elizabeth Bishop, Louise MacNeice and Arun Kolatkar.
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For more information on Imtiaz Dharker, visit her website:

www.imtiazdharker.com.
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A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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Sonnet 73 (‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’)

William Shakespeare

Sonnet 73That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consum’d by that which it was nourished by.

  This thou perceiv’st which makes thy love more strong,

  To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

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A tale of two poets, Thom Gunn and Elizabeth Bishop

A tale of two poets, Thom Gunn and Elizabeth BishopAfter a rocky first meeting, the two became friends. Colm Toíbín traces the similarities in their outlook and describes how, by virtue of their poems, they both moved from self-effacement into the light

In the month or so after Thom Gunn died in April 2004, I formed the habit at the end of the day’s work of taking down his Collected Poems and reading a poem. One night I noticed a small book beside the Collected Poems called Thom Gunn in Conversation with James Campbell. On page 19, I came on the following passage which made me sit up for a moment. When Campbell said: “Your new book, Boss Cupid, contains some new poems about your mother. Is this the first time you’ve written about her?” Gunn replied: “The second poem about my mother is called ‘The Gas Poker’. She killed herself, and my brother and I found the body, which was not her fault because she’d barred the doors, as you’ll see in the poem. Obviously this was quite a traumatic experience; it would be in anyone’s life. I wasn’t able to write about it till just a few years ago.”
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I looked at those words again: “Obviously this was quite a traumatic experience; it would be in anyone’s life.” And then I burrowed among some books and found a quote from a letter which the American poet, Elizabeth Bishop, wrote to Anne Stevenson in 1964: “Although I think I have a prize ‘unhappy childhood’, almost good enough for the text-books – please don’t think I dote on it.” In that letter, Bishop wrote about her mother’s mental illness which began after Bishop’s father’s early death. “One always thinks that things might be better now, she might have been cured, etc … Well – there we are. Times have changed.”
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“Well, there we are.” I put the words beside Gunn’s: “Obviously this was quite a traumatic experience.” And I began to think about the connections between these two poets.

Read the complete article
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A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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And now the leaves suddenly lose strength

Philip Larkin

And now the leaves suddenly lose strengthAnd now the leaves suddenly lose strength.

Decaying towers stand still, lurid, lanes-long,

And seen from landing windows, or the length

Of gardens, rubricate afternoons. New strong

Rain-bearing night-winds come: then

Leaves chase warm buses, speckle statued air,

Pile up in corners, fetch out vague broomed men

Through mists at morning.

                                  And no matter where goes down,

The sallow lapsing drift in fields

Or squares behind hoardings, all men hesitate

Separately, always, seeing another year gone –

Frockcoated gentleman, farmer at his gate,

Villein with mattock, soldiers on their shields,

All silent, watching the winter coming on.

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Celebration of the World: ‘Let Us Watch: Richard Wilbur’

By William H. Pritchard

Celebration of the WorldThe poet Richard Wilbur is ninety-six, old enough that his poet-contemporaries—Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, James Merrill, Anthony Hecht—have been gone for decades. Wilbur’s most recent and probably final book of poems, Anterooms, appeared in 2007,  an attractive completion to the Collected Poems published three years earlier. Altogether his career has yielded ten individual books of poems, five books of illustrated poems for children and adults, fifteen translations of classical French drama, and two collections of literary essays—an achievement to be wondered at. Now comes a biography by Robert Bagg and Mary Bagg, the former a poet and translator of distinction, the latter a freelance editor. Their book suits Wilbur’s kind of career: a “biographical study” in which chapters focusing on the life alternate with ones devoted to some of his best poems and translation. A critical intelligence has been applied both to the man and to the reason we are interested in the man.
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The early chapters take us through Wilbur’s boyhood in New Jersey, where he lived with his parents and brother on a sort of estate presided over by a patron of the arts who had befriended Wilbur’s father, a graphic artist celebrated in one of the son’s best early poems, “My Father Paints the Summer.” In secondary school and at Amherst College, the young Wilbur was an outspoken, even radical student journalist, opposing America’s entry into World War II. At Amherst he joined a fraternity, where he was later informed by one of the “brothers” that his selection had been made in the hope that the fraternity’s grade point average would benefit. Undoubtedly his most significant action at college was to fall in love with a girl from Smith, Charlotte Ward  (“Charlee”); they married after Wilbur’s graduation in 1942, just prior to his entering the Army to engage in the war he had opposed. Originally he joined the Signal Corps, but was expelled for “subversive” activities like subscribing to the Daily Worker and having a copy of Das Kapital in his footlocker. In a subsequent interview for an assignment as a cryptographer, the interviewing officer warned that “if we catch you overthrowing our government, out you go.”

Read the complete article
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Listen to Richard Wilbur read “Lilacs,” “Seed Leaves” (twice), “Praise in Summer,” “The Puritans,” “Museum Piece” and other poems.

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How poets write letters

NANCY CAMPBELL

How poets write lettersThe penny post, the telegram, email — all were predicted to be the death of letter writing. Elizabeth Bishop and Philip Larkin shared this anxiety, but their correspondence debunks it… more »
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We will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems thus far.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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Elizabeth Bishop: Exchanging Hats – in pictures

Elizabeth Bishop Exchanging Hats – in picturesBest known as a poet, Elizabeth Bishop was also a prolific painter. As a new book of her art is published, curator William Benton introduces some of his favourites.

View a selection of Elizabeth Bishop’s art
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A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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Love Story That Was a Challenge to Tell: ‘Reaching for the Moon,’ a Film About Elizabeth Bishop

By LARRY ROHTER

A Poet_s Tempestuous Romance in BrazilIt’s not unusual, especially these days, for a film to have a lengthy gestation period. But “Reaching for the Moon,” a new drama about the tempestuous love affair between the American poet Elizabeth Bishop and the Brazilian landscape architect Carlota de Macedo Soares, has, by any standard, been an exceptionally long time in the making.
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Though the movie opened Friday [Nov. 8, 2013], its origins date to 1959, when the Brazilian film producer Lucy Barreto was invited to a luncheon at Samambaia, the mountain estate near Rio de Janeiro where Bishop and Macedo Soares lived. Prominent Brazilian poets and politicians were among the guests, and the house itself was decorated with paintings and sculpture by renowned artists, but it was the hostesses who left her with her most vivid memory.
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“What impressed me was the intimacy and complicity between the two of them,” Ms. Barreto recalled recently. “At times, one would be on one side of the room and the second on the other side, in different conversations. But one would look at the other with a half-smile, and you could see they were in constant communication. It was something very special, and I never forgot it.”

Read the complete review
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We will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems thus far.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

 

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A Poet’s Tempestuous Romance in Brazil: ‘Reaching for the Moon,’about Elizabeth Bishop

By NICOLAS RAPOLD

A Poet_s Tempestuous Romance in BrazilInspired by the 1995 Brazilian best seller “Rare and Commonplace Flowers,” Bruno Barreto’s “Reaching for the Moon” likewise imagines Elizabeth Bishop’s extraordinary relationship with the Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. It’s an abridgment of a composite, which leads to the biographical equivalent of plot-point summary. But Mr. Barreto and his lead actresses do stage a battle of creative and romantic egos, as Bishop (Miranda Otto) and Lota (Glória Pires) push up against the bounds of what the heart can take.
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Bishop’s 1951 visit to Rio de Janeiro, which turned into a 15-year stay, readily blooms into melodrama. Bishop, a New England native, stays at Lota’s spectacular country estate and becomes part of Lota’s customarily outsize plans. Deeply attracted, Bishop enters into a volatile domestic arrangement with the safely ruling-class Lota and her long-suffering lover, the American exile Mary Morse (Tracy Middendorf). In Mr. Barreto’s vintage-dress paradise, which also celebrates an era of promise in Brazil’s history, Bishop writes, loves and sometimes drinks herself senseless.
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Read the complete review
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We will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems thus far.
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Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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The Love of Her Life

By EMILY NUSSBAUM

The Love of Her LifeRARE AND COMMONPLACE FLOWERS: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares.

By Carmen L. Oliveira. Translated by Neil K. Besner. Illustrated. 192 pp. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. $26.

Elizabeth Bishop — in person and in her poetry — was wry, discreet and a little peculiar. A Vassar girl and a disciple of Marianne Moore, Bishop rejected the confessional, politicized bent of her contemporaries. (She refused even to be included in anthologies of women’s poetry.) Shunted about unhappily as a child, Bishop chose as her theme displacement, and as her aesthetic self-abnegation: a sometimes arid neutrality, the opposite of attention seeking.
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How stunning, then, to learn that the love of Bishop’s life was a swaggering Brazilian woman, the aristocratic self-trained architect Lota de Macedo Soares. A bold and funny self-promoter, Soares spearheaded the development of Parque do Flamengo, an elaborate public park in the center of Rio de Janeiro.
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There was a fairy-tale intensity to the women’s romance, which began when Soares nursed Bishop back to health during what was intended to be a brief visit to Brazil. Instead, Bishop stayed on, and the couple nested happily together for 12 years, spending much of their time in the ultramodern home Soares had designed in nearby Samambaia. But the love affair that began blissfully ended in sorrow: alcoholism, depression, adultery and, finally, suicide. “Rare and Commonplace Flowers” is an account of this romance, and in its mix of novelistic techniques and biographical reportage, it might well have appalled the more introverted of its two subjects.

Read the complete review
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A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems.
.
Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

Leave a comment

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