Home and abroad: Elizabeth Bishop’s poetics of placement in Questions of Travel
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Who is Elizabeth Bishop? In spite of the vast number of studies done on Bishop and her work over the last twenty-five years, cohering Bishop the poet with Bishop the person is hardly any less difficult than it was upon the poet’s death in 1978. Bishop leaves behind four collections of poetry as well as a handful of unpublished and uncollected works in addition to her posthumously published letters and prose. For their part, critics have approached Bishop from as many critical lenses as offered by the theoretical schools flourishing during the second half of the twentieth century. A survey of critical responses from the last ten years alone yields scholarship on Bishop’s feminism, her tourism, her formalism, and even her brief forays into socialism. As wide-ranging as the contemporary academic opinions of Bishop, the responses of creative writers reveal her pervasive influence on generations of poets who appreciate her adherence to form and close attention to the object. Equally appealing to her colleagues is Bishop’s retention of mystery and irresolution in her poems that rewards repeated readings of her work. Contingent with current Bishop scholarship, I plan to discuss the ways in which Bishop’s poetry at once seeks to construct and evade stable identity and how her time in Brazil provided the perfect setting for such negotiations. With an emphasis on her poetry written while in Brazil, as well as her letters and other biographical resources, my work will focus on Bishop’s displacement in Brazil as a facilitator to her creativity.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English