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The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin, edited by Thomas Travisano,

is a semi-annual publication of the Elizabeth Bishop Society.


Advisory Board:
J acqueline Vaught Brogan (Internet:
J acqueline. V.Brogan.2@nd.edu)
Dept of English, Notre Dame University
South Bend,IN 56556 (219) 233-7958
Margaret Dickie (1nterneL:@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU:M.'v1DICKlE@
Department of English, t:GA.CC.UGA.EDU)
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30606 (706) 548-8969
Marilyn May Lombardi
Dept. of English, University of NorthCarolina-Greensboro
Greensboro, NC 27412 (919) 334-5384
Barbara Page (Internet: "pagC@vaxsar.vassar.edu")
Dept. of English, Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 (914) 437-5950
Thomas Travisano (Internet: "travisanot@hartwiclc.edu")
Department of English, Hartwick College
Oneonta. NY 13820 (607) 431-4907
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Afterward by Bannie Costello
(University of Massachusetts
Press), and theother acritical study, Susan McCabe's Elizabeth
Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss (penn State Press). Another critical
study is due in early 1995: Marilyn May Lombardi's The Body
and the Song: Elizabeth Bishop's Poetics. Look for areview of
these three books inthe next issue of the Bulletin.
Society members may want to keep an eye out later this
year for two essays that reconsider the way Bishop has been
placed by earlier literary historians: Betsy Erkkila's "Elizabeth
Bishop's Politics," to be published byAmerican Literary His-
tory and Bulletin editor Thomas Travisano's "The Elizabeth
Bishop Phenonmenon," to be published by New Literary
History in J uly of 1995. These two essays will also be included
in Gendered Modernisms: American Women Poets and Their
Readers. a collection of essays co-edited by Travisano and
Margaret Dickie that reconsiders Bishop and seven oilier mod-
em women poets in relation to literary history. This collection
isscheduled for publication by the University ofPennyslvania
Press in December of 1995.
. Also due late in 1995 is a special issue of the Wallace
Stevens Journal, guest-edited by J acqueline Vaught Brogan,
that will explore Bishop's artistic relationship with Stevens.
New and Forthcoming on Bishop
Two important recent books have been published on
Bishop. one a biography. Gary Fountain and Peter Brazeau's
Remembering Elizabeth Bishop: An Oral Biography. with an
Two significant and overlapping public events, one schol-
arly,one popular/c ommercial, have latel y marked thereconsid-
eration of Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop On September 20-22 an
Elizabeth Bishop Symposium was held at Vassar College.
Organized by Barbara Page, Symposium Director and Thomas
Travisano, Program Co-ordinator, this event brought together
many of Bishop's oldest friends and associates as well as many
of the most familiar names inBishop studies. On November 20
CBS Sunday Morning.in response to theever increasing aware-
ness of Bishop's emergence asmajor figure in twentieth century
American poetry, aired an eight-and-a-half minute profile on
Bishop. aprogram produced by Howard Weinberg and hosted
by Charles Osgood. The program drew heavily on sequences
. filmed at the Bishop Symposium, including excerpts from the
public events honoring Bishop. including excepts from read-
ings by Nancy Williard. Robert Pinsky and Elizabeth Spires,
and clips of such Bishop friends as Frani Blough Muser,
Cynthia Krupat, and Loren Mel ver. It also featured interviews
with Barbara Page, Robert Giroux and our Nova Scotia corre-
spondent, Sandra Barry.
This issue is largely devoted toachronicalling ofthese two
events. It features apiece titled "CBS, In the Village" by Barry.
along with a sampling of events at the Bishop Symposium.
Look also for information on Bishop at the upcoming MLA
Conferencin San Francisco. including aparty sponsoredby the
Society on Wednesday, Decem ber 28and aspecial session led
byJ osefRaabdevoted to and the artofTranslation. (The editor
apologizes for the lateness. due to illness, of the Bulletin in
relation to :MLA.)
It's also time to renew your membership in the Society. If
you didn't sign upfor amulti-year membership last timearound.
look also for amembership renewal fonn in this envelope. This
time you have the option of signing up for two years for nine
dollars, or one year for five (Students: $5 for one year or $3 for
two. Foreign members please pay in US Funds by postal money
order. Thanks.
Bishop on theAir
Winter 1993 Volume 3, Number 2
The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin
2
Halifax, N.S.
Bishop wrote, "I amsuperstitious about going 'back' toplaces,
anyway: they have changed; you have changed; even the
weather may havechanged:" (CollectedProse, 109).And while
change has come to Great Village (most sadly and noticeably
since Bishop's time inthe loss of all the beautiful, but now
"dismantled," elms), thespirit of theplace remains willing and
strong.
. O~eof Weinberg ,sobjectives was tolink actual places and
objects to Bishop's poetry and prose. We chose several sites at
which Iread a passage from the oeuvre and discussed it a bit
whileour cameraman (anati veson, FredMacDonald, afreelancer
from Canning) captured the image. Tempting though it is to
recount each mise en scene, I shall restrict myself to the one
wherein Weinberg wanted tofilm thetide', "the creeping laven-
der-red water," whichhas not changed for millennia. I therefore
suggested Spencers Point, just a few kilometres from the
Village, a pJ ace which Bishop knew well and later wrote about
in her letters. The tide had just crested and the"rich mud" was
lapped by "the bay coming in." The spot was tranquil, pungent
and quickened by the elements, "earth, air, fire. water" (mud.
wind, sun, tide). As we stood basking in the glorious morning,
suddenly we became aware of them-dozens, perhaps hun-
dreds. of semipalmated sandpipers,
. "Sandpiper" is of course a quintessential Bishop poem
(and my favourite). Though it evokes the "finical, awkward"
bird running along anAtlantic shoreline, thepipers we watched
on this muddy strand of Cobequid Bay seemed sent by some
very old Baptist providence. After all, were we not there
"looking for something, something, something"-a motif which
infuses and haunts Bishop's life and work? I therefore quietly
declaimed "Sandpiper" to this avian audience, feeling a "sweet
/ sensation of joy."
Later thecrew filmed the Mahon cemetery, Great Village
River, thePresbyterian (now United) and Baptist churches, the
former Bulmerfamily home (now Bowers) and theschool. Also
filmed was thesplendid old Bulmer family Bible-the genesis
of "Over 2,000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance."
Weinberg conversed with Bishop's cousin; Phyllis Sutherland
(Grace Bulmer Bowers's daughter) and Logan Spencer, current
janitor of the school, who disputed Bishop's recollection in
"Primer Class" of thelocation of theouthouses. One could not
help being impressed by thesensitivity of Weinberg's effort 10
image the 'voice and vision' of Elizabeth Bishop's Great
Village.
I believe that those who seek to understand the well-
springs of Bishop's poetry and prose must pilgrimage to Great
Village. While her work speaks for itself (as she thought all
good poetry should). requires no external "signifiers" and is an
end-in-itself of the journey, traveling to and through those
places she experienced and evokes so vividly is a means to
capture and emulate the process which finally remains "un-
rediscovered, un-renamable": "life and the memory of it."
Since the early 1980s the residents of Great Village have
marked theappearance of pilgrims in their community insearch
of thesites/ sights and sounds which Elizabeth Bishop knew and
ex~erienced as a child. Iuse the word "pilgrim" advisedly, for
while Great Village is not so isolated as Diamantia (a cornmu- .
ni~yin themountainous state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, to which
BIShop ?erself made a pilgrimage inthe 1950s), traveling to
Great Village (a community near the north shore of Cobequid
Bay, the eastern extremity of Minas Basin) does require com-
mitment. It is rather off the beaten track. "Pilgrim" also con-
notes these visitors' sense of thesacredness of theNova Scotian
landscape: inhabitants, buildings and memories which shaped
so much of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry and prose and which
remain tangible today.
G~eatVillagers have watched theever-increasing comings
and goings of these pilgrims (from far-flung places such as
England, J apan and the United States) with interest and
bemusement. In the late 1980s a film crew from PBS appeared
to shoot footage for a documentary about Bishop for the Voices
and Visions series. Those "passengers (who] lie back ....Talking
theway they talked ..." on that ancient Acadian Lines bus for the
PBS program are Great Villagers themselves, participating in
re-creating Bishop's 1946 experience from which she 'created
the magni~cent genre poem, "The Moose," evoking the very
place and Its embodied spirits.
When I received a call from CBS "Sunday Morning"
producer Howard Weinberg, asking whether I would take him
on a tour of Great Village. so that he could shoot footage for a
~eature. about Elizabeth Bishop, I was naturally excited. I
immediately telephoned the Great Village people, who re-
sponded with that mixture of enthusiasm and composure which
marks their pride in and assurance of the special ness of their
home. I met Weinberg a few weeks later. at which time hetold
me that the focus of the feature was the"increasing interest" in
Bishop. Thus he wanted to know about the activities of the
newly-formed Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and
duly met and interviewed the Society's executive members. I
am not sure what Weinberg expected to find in Great Village,
but whatever his prior expectations I think he would agree that
being."In the Village" remainsapalpableaestheticandspirimal
expenence.ln the introduction toThe Diary of 'Helena Morley ,
CBSI IntheVillage
By Sandra Barry
Editor's Note: In September of 1994 Sandra Barry, a co-
founder of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, served
as resident Bishop expert and tour guide through Great Village
for Howard Weinberg, producer oj theBishop profile for CBS
Sunday Morning. Before the show aired on November 20. J
asked Sandra to write up her impressions of the experience.
Many of these, including the glimpse of sandpipers that accom-
panied Sandra's reading of the poem oj that name, and the
~~nageof the Bulme~ family Bible that served as a sourcefor
Over 2000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance," actu-
allyfound their way into the program.
Winter 1994
Volume 3Number 2
The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin
3
Saturday, September 24, PM
Panel VII: THE BISHOP PAPERS: TEX11J AL ISSUES
Chair: Barbara Page, Vassar College .
Bonnie Costello, Boston University
Lorrie Goldensohn, Vassar College
Victoria Harrison, University of California at Santa Barbara
Marilyn May Lombardi, University of North
Carolina-Greensboro .
Brett MiIlier, Middlebury College
Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College
Panel VIII: READING ELIZABETH BISHOP: THE NEXT
GENERATION
Concluding plenary discussion.
Panel V: TRADITIONS (II)
Chair: Marilyn May Lombardi, University of North Carolina-
Greensboro
1. ':Reading Bishop as a Religious Poet," Cheryl Walker,
Scnpps College
2. "Elizabeth Bishop and J orie Graham: 'Suffering the Limits
of Description,'" Thomas Gardner, Virginia Polytechnic Insti-
tute
3. "Colonialism, Gender and Lyric Identity in the
Reconfigurations of Crusoe in Elizabeth Bishop and Derek
Walcott," J ames McCorkle, Hobart andWilliamSmith College
Panel VI: ELIZABETH BISHOP INTHE POSTMODERN
ERA
Chair: Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College
l. "Life as Art: Constructing Elizabeth Bishop," Celeste
.Goodridge, Bowdoin College
2. "Re-Reading Confessional Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop and the
Confessional Moment in American Poetry," Susankosenhaum
University of Michigan . '
3. "Elizabeth Bishop as Delicate Ethnographer,"
Ann Shifrer, Utah State University
S;lt~rday, Sep.tembe,r24, AM '
Business Meeting, Elizabeth Bishop Society
Winter 1994
Friday, September 23, PM
Panel III: ETHICS, POLITICS AND BISHOP
Chair: Cheryl Walker, Scripps College
1. "The Political Dimension of Elizabeth Bishop," J osef
Raab, Catholic University of Eichstatt, Germany
2."Elizabeth Bishop IsFeministPoetic Travel from' Sonnet'
(1928) to 'Sonnet' (1979)," Gillian Huang-Tiller, Notre
Dame
3."Monster Radishes and Weekly Wonders: Toward an
Economy of Elizabeth Bishop's Brazilian Poems," Molly
Weigel, Princeton University
Friday, September 23, AM
Introduction to the Panels: Thomas Travisano,
Panel I: INVENTING A VOICE
Chair: Margaret Dickie, University of Georgia
I. "AnArtist in the House," Sandra Barry, Halifax, Nova
Scotia
2. "Elizabeth Bishop's Qualifying Syntax,"
Carol Frost, Hartwick College
3. "'Home-made! Butaren '1weall? 'Crusoe in theNursery"
Richard Flynn, Georgia Southern
Panelli. QUESTIONS OF BIOGRAPHY
Chair: Brett Millier, Middlebury College
1. "The Search for the Earthly Paradise," lise Barker, .
Midhurst, West Sussex, England
2. "'No Sense of Shame'? Character andJ udgment inanOral
Biography of Elizabeth Bishop," GaryFountain,MissPorter's
School
3. "The Prodigal," Brett Millier, Middlebury College
The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin
Elizabeth Bishop Symposium
TheVassar Symposium was agalaeventin Elizabeth Bishop
studies. Graced by the presence of keynote speaker Robert
Giroux, Bishop's loyal publisher, it also featured old friends
like Loren McIver, Frani Blough Muser, Cynthia (Muser)
Krupat, andIlseBarker, as well as poet-admirers likeRobert
Pinsky, Nancy Willard, Elizabeth Spires, Eamon Grennan,
and J ane Shore. Something like aworking quorum of au-
thors of critical and biographical books on Bishop was on
han~: a group including Bonnie Costello, Gary Fountain,
Lome Goldenshon, Victoria Harrison, Marilyn May Lom-
bardi, Brett Millier, and Thomas Travisano, along with
many other long time and some new students of Bishop's
work. Despite theabsence of afew notable figures in Bishop
studies, it seems safe to say that no equivlent body of
knowledge and expertise on Elizabeth Bishop has ever
before been assembled. Symposium Director BarabaraPage,
whose presentation of Bishop archival material oncomputer
was one of the occasion's many highlights, is putting to-
gether an electronic version of the symposium papers to be
posted on Internet.
Thursday, September 22, Evening
Welcome and Introduction: Barbara Page
Keynote Address: Robert Giroux
"The Genius of Elizabeth Bishop"
Volume 3,Number 2
Panel IV: TRADITIONS (I)
Chair: Willard Spiegelman, Southern Methodist University
1. "Heightening Depression: A Wordsworth for the
~d-Twentieth Century," Steven Meyer, Washington Univer-
mty .
2. "Bishop and Auden," Bonnie Costello, Boston University
3. '.'Bishop's 'Second Selves," Willard Spiegeltnan, SMU
Friday, September 23, Evening
ELIZABETH BISHOP AMONG THE POETS:
A CONVERSATION AND READING
Chair: Lorrie Goldensohn, Vassar College
Robert Pinsky-
J ane Shore
Elizabeth Spires
Eamon Grennan
Nancy Willard
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Hartwick
College
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PAID
Society Party at MLA, December 28
The Elizabeth Bishop Society will sponsor a party at the
Modern Language Association Conference in San Diego on
Wednesday, December 28, from 5:30-7:00 PM. Prof. Brett
Millier of Middlebury College has very kindly agreed to host
the party in her rooms at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Liquid
refreshments and munchies will be provided. Please come, if
you are in town, [0share the excitement and good fellowship of
the Society, and to celebrate the ever-growing reputation of
Elizabeth Bishop.
A Note fromthe Editor
This has beenanother remarkable six-months for Bishop
studies. And, as this issue makes clear, more writings about
Bishop and more Bishop events are the works. For example, a
conference on Bishop a couple of years hence in Worcester,
Massachusetts, Bishop's birthplace, is in the discussion stages, .
an'dthe members of the Bishop Society of Nova Scotia are busy
.organzing what they hope will become an annual comrnemora-
tiveeventforJ uneof1995. The energy and devotion of Bishop's
readers has always been intense; but now that readership is
much larger. Ihave enjoyed working with many of you to
advance Bishop studies and would welcome any comments you
might have to improve the Bulletin or to push forward Bishop
research. And please let me know ifyou have any news or
information that might besuitable for the Bulletin. And, unless
your mailing label reads 1996or Hon (honorary) in the upper
right hand corner, don't forget to renew your membership.
ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED
Hartwick College
Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin
Department ofEnglish
Oneonta, NY 13820
'MLA Session: EBIS Translations
Elizabeth Bishop sessions at MLA are getting to be an
annual affair. This year an international session on "Elizabeth
Bishop's Translations" has beenorganized by Society member
J osef'Raab. This will be session #772, onFriday, 30 December,
12:00 noon-I: 15PM in room 10 of the San Diego Convention
Center. The session features a native of Brazil, Maria Lucia
Milleo Martins, speaking on Bishop's translations of the Brazil-
ian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, as well as talks by
authors of the two most recent critical books on Bishop,
Marilyn May Lombardi and Susan McCabe.
Session title: ElizabethBishop's Translations
Organizer: J osef Raab, Catholic University of Eichstaett,
Germany
Papers:
1. Susan McCabe (University of Arizona), Elizabeth
Bishop: Translation and Autobiography."
2Maria Lucia Milleo Martins (Universidade Federal de
Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil), "Carlos Drummondde
Andrade inElizabeth Bishop's Voice: 'A Lessonin Poetry. '"
3. MarilynMay Lombardi (University of North Caro-
linaat Greensboro), "Cannibalism and Translation: 'Travelling
through the Flesh."
4. J osef Raab (Catholic University of Eichstaett, Ger-
many), Cultural Conflux(?): OctavioPaz andElizabeth Bishop."