Friday (If I Could Meet Miss. Bishop…) Musings

Those of you who keep up with daily publications better than I do already know that the July/August issue of Poetry included a “Poets We’ve Known” section at the end of the magazine. I really enjoyed reading about Robert Creely, John Ashberry, and Miroslav through the stories of their friends. My favorite of course was Katha Pollitt’s reminisces of Elizabeth Bishop. It is foolish for me to say this, but I’m going to anyway, I think we could have been friends. This little glance into Bishop’s life made me admire her even more, especially when Pollitt talks about her as teacher and compares her to Bernard Malamud, who was at Harvard at the same time:

“…he saw himself, I think, as I kind of talent scout from God. Maybe he was–but I had friends who took years to recover from one of his verdicts. Bishop had the opposite approach: she seemed to enjoy teaching, and was clearly amused by her students, a typical combination of the bow tied and tie-dyed–young fogies and hippies–but I don’t think it was a calling, part of her identity. She wasn’t concerned to make final judgments or peer into our depths.”

I like this because I feel much the same about my students. While I do think that teaching is a large part of my identity, I’m not really interested in judging my students. This could be because I teach a lot of introductory level courses, but destroying their will to write isn’t what I signed up for.

But Pollitt’s account also makes me envious and I agree when she calls herself foolish for not accepting Bishop’s invitation for a visit to New Haven. While many critics have accused Bishop’s poetry of being cold and detached at times, Pollitt’s story shows just how much she was willing to extend to her students. As Pollitt mentions in the opening, she was one of the few professors who took a class to her home.
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This is a neat article about incorporating flowers into cocktails. They’re very romantic and they look like something I could write a poem about. See pictures below:

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