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

Monday, August 24, 2020

A couple of EB items

It is time for the “Two Arts” virtual exhibit to wind down. I will begin posting other things and slowly the images will settle into the blog’s archive. That said, however, we will keep the separate “Two Arts” page in the menu on the right-hand side, so that if anyone wants to check it out in the future, the links will give easy access to the images. The EBSNS will continue to offer framed and unframed prints for as long as we have them available, so if anyone is interested, they can find out the terms on the “Two Arts” page and see what prints we still have.

The EBSNS wishes to extend deepest gratitude to Natallia Povaliayeva for her generosity in allowing the society to share her whimsical, EB-inspired drawings and to allowing us to raise money through the sale of prints. Her delightful art benefits all who see it and the fund-raiser has benefitted the EBSNS in a substantial way. Thank you.

Below are notices about several new collections of poetry that are inspired to some degree by Bishop’s life and art. I am happy to feature these books and their authors. At the end of this post, there is also an image that is as interesting as it is rare.


Aiden Rooney’s Go There, the Irish poet’s most recent collection, contains three poems that are inspired by his visits to Nova Scotia and his connection to Bishop. In the introduction to this collection, Daniel Tobin describes “Seals,” “In Acadie,” and “Habitation” as “North American poems,” but two of these are deeply immersed in the history of Nova Scotia itself, long before it was part of even British North America. “Seals” is clearly a nod to Bishop’s famous seal in “At the Fishhouses.”


New England poet Jeffrey Harrison’s new collection Between Lakes has just been published by Four Way Books. Jeffrey’s work is elegant and profound, deeply indebted to the natural world that infuses his gestalt. He is also a Bishop fan and the collection contains one poem inspired by a story I told him some years ago about Bishop and The Grateful Dead!


Poet and playwright Malcolm Willison’s latest collection, A House of Her Own (SeaStory Press 2019) has the delightful subtitle: Poems on the Afterlife of Elizabeth Bishop’s House in Key West. Over the course of many years wintering in Key West, Willison walked by Bishop’s home (the first home of her own in her adult life) again and again. He began writing about this experience and in the end realized he had a collection that charted the changes that took place to that house. These poems are by turns intriguing, amusing, elegiac and wonderfully descriptive of the activities or lack there of that he witnessed, as residents came and went. The house is now owned by the Key West Literary Seminar organization, with a mission to restore it and make it available to the public. Willison’s poems are a lovely, literary record of one poet’s longing to ‘get inside’ – and now that will be possible.


Poet Henri Cole recently send this image of what can only be described as a truly rare pairing. In 1973, The Phoenix Bookshop in New York City brought out a letter press printed chapbook of Bishop’s “Poem.” Only 126 were printed. Henri recently purchased one of the rare signed copies. His friend Rachel Jacoff is now the owner of the small George W. Hutchinson painting that inspired “Poem” – it was a truly inspired gesture to bring these two significant Bishop treasures together. I thank Henri for sharing this image with me.