Elizabeth Bishop A miracle for breakfast

Megan Marshall

Book - 2017

"Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America's best-loved poets. And yet -- painfully shy and living out of public view in Key West and Brazil, among other hideaways -- she has never been seen so fully as a woman and an artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop's letters -- to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers -- to reveal a much darker childhoo...d than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with the Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares."--

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BIOGRAPHY/Bishop, Elizabeth
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Subjects
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 365 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780544617308
0544617304
Main Author
Megan Marshall (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Pulitzer Prize winner Marshall (Margaret Fuller, 2014) presents an enlightening look into the life of the private, meticulous poet who wrote such perfectly polished poems as "The Fish" and "A Map of the World" in this hybrid biography-memoir. Though Marshall interleaves brief chapters about her time with Bishop and such key players as Robert Lowell, Bishop's story can't help but prove far more engaging. From Marianne Moore's mentoring to her soulful friendship with Lowell, we glimpse Bishop's literary influences and gain better understanding of the ways writers of the time nurtured and challenged one another to innovate. Thanks to recently discovered correspondence with Bishop's psychiatrist and lovers, we glimpse sources of her loneliness and constant search for "home." Her childhood losses and emotional abandonment no doubt played a role in the somewhat parental relationships she had with some strong, artistic, self-sufficient women. Yet her clinging to the feeling of being "in love" seemed often to dampen her artistic drive. A biography of Bishop is long overdue, and Marshall illuminates the poet's life with fascinating and inspiring details and insights. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Marshall, who studied with iconic American poet Elizabeth Bishop, offers a sharpened portrait that draws on newly discovered letters to reveal a secret lover, a darker childhood than previously acknowledged, and more details about Bishop's passion for Brazilian designer Lota de Macedo Soares. With a 30,000-copy first printing.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Marshall, whose earlier works include Margaret Fuller (winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Biography) and The Peabody Sisters, here uses newly discovered letters by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79) to offer a broader view of the life of the poet (who published only around 100 poems in her lifetime). Marshall, who studied with Bishop during the 1970s at Bishop's poetry workshop at Harvard University, is able to give readers both an academic view of her subject as well as glimpses into the poet's personae. Marshall brings the sometimes elusive writer, who spent significant periods of her life in Key West and Brazil, to life, offering a cohesive and novel look at the ways in which subject and biographer are intertwined and the value of understanding a poet's biography while reading their work. VERDICT This study opens up a new way of looking at Bishop's life and her place in American letters. Recommended for poetry and literature lovers and fans of literary biography.—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Marshall, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in biography for Margaret Fuller, takes an excursion through the life of Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979), one of 20th-century America's foremost poets. After surviving a troubled childhood with a sadistic uncle, a modest inheritance allowed Bishop to attend Vassar and afterward gave her the freedom to pursue poetry. Lovers led her from Paris to Key West to Petrópolis, Brazil. Bishop drank heavily and had to keep her lesbianism secret, but she also led a rich existence; she traveled the Amazon, swam naked in a lover's pool in secluded Petrópolis, and all the while produced a small but incomparable body of art. Marshall, weaving her own encounters with Bishop in the 1970s into this biography, expertly shows this charmed and sometimes sad life in intelligent, clear, and beautiful prose. Marshall repeatedly asserts that Bishop was "shy" but never reconciles this descriptor with the woman she shows interviewing T.S. Eliot, editing the Vassar yearbook, and finding a fashionable literary clique. Likewise, how was this winsome woman "difficult," as repeatedly claimed? But even if the poet herself remains elusive in this telling, this book is still a generous, enjoyable piece of work. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Inc. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a brilliantly rendered life of one of our most admired American poets. Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America's best-loved poets. And yet -- painfully shy and living out of public view in Key West and Brazil, among other hideaways -- she has never been seen so fully as a woman and an artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop's letters -- to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers -- to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with the Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares. These elements of Bishop's life, along with her friendships with poets Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, are brought to life with novelistic intensity. And by alternating the narrative line of biography with brief passages of memoir, Marshall, who studied with Bishop in her storied 1970s poetry workshop at Harvard, offers the reader a compelling glimpse of the ways poetry and biography, subject and biographer, are entwined. Finally, in this riveting portrait of a life lived for -- and saved by -- art, Marshall captures the enduring magic of Bishop's creative achievement"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller traces the private life of revered American poet Elizabeth Bishop, drawing on insights from a newly discovered cache of letters to her psychiatrist and three lovers to illuminate her dark childhood and secret passions. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Presents and intimate portrait of the poet, discussing her creative achievement, but also her dark childhood and her romance with Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From a Pulitzer Prize'winning author, a brilliantly rendered life of one of our most admired American poets Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America's best-loved poets. And yet'painfully shy and living out of public view in Key West and Brazil, among other hideaways'she has never been seen so fully as a woman and an artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop's letters'to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers'to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with the Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares. These elements of Bishop's life, along with her friendships with poets Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, are brought to life with novelistic intensity. And by alternating the narrative line of biography with brief passages of memoir, Marshall, who studied with Bishop in her storied 1970s poetry workshop at Harvard, offers the reader a compelling glimpse of the ways poetry and biography, subject and biographer, are entwined. Finally, in this riveting portrait of a life lived for'and saved by'art, Marshall captures the enduring magic of Bishop's creative achievement. 

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A brilliantly rendered life of one of the most admired American poets of the last century, from a Pulitzer Prize'winning author who alternates biography with a memoir of her own days as a young writer in Bishop's famous Harvard poetry workshop.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

A brilliantly rendered life of one of the most admired American poets of the last century, from a Pulitzer Prize−winning author who alternates biography with a memoir of her own days as a young writer in Bishop’s famous Harvard poetry workshop.

Review by Publisher Summary 7

From a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a brilliantly rendered life of one of our most admired American poets Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America’s best-loved poets. And yet—painfully shy and living out of public view in Key West and Brazil, among other hideaways—she has never been seen so fully as a woman and an artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop’s letters—to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers—to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with the Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares. These elements of Bishop’s life, along with her friendships with poets Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, are brought to life with novelistic intensity. And by alternating the narrative line of biography with brief passages of memoir, Marshall, who studied with Bishop in her storied 1970s poetry workshop at Harvard, offers the reader a compelling glimpse of the ways poetry and biography, subject and biographer, are entwined. Finally, in this riveting portrait of a life lived for—and saved by—art, Marshall captures the enduring magic of Bishop’s creative achievement.