"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, September 28, 2015

From "The Life and Works of Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat," vol. 666 -- (entry for September 28, 2007)

"I was reading a lovely book called Poets on Painting, edited by J. D. McLatchy, on the bus this morning, mostly the essays by Wallace Stevens and by Elizabeth Bishop (hers is about the naive painter Gregorio Valdes). I saw something in Bishop's essay I hadn't noticed before -- she very clearly states that you can count seven palm trees on each side of the road in the Valdes painting reproduced to accompany the essay -- but, try as I might, I can only count six. And this has led me once again to the place the so-called "inaccuracies" in her poem "In the Waiting Room" have taken me on previous occasions: this aspect of her poetry seems to me to be exploring the issue of poetic authority. We want the poem to be true in a very naive sense -- and she prefers to show us that the world is more about being at sixes and sevens."

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