“A shapely experiment, mixing memoir with biography . . . [Elizabeth Bishop] fuses sympathy with intelligence, sending us back to Bishop’s marvelous poems.” — Wall Street Journal
Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America’s most revered poets. And yet she has never been fully understood as a woman and artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop’s letters to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares.
By alternating the narrative line of biography with brief passages of memoir, Megan Marshall, who studied with Bishop in her storied 1970s poetry workshop at Harvard, offers the reader an original and compelling glimpse of the ways poetry and biography, subject and biographer, are entwined.
“Marshall is a skilled reader who points out the telling echoes between Bishop’s published and private writing. Her account is enriched by a cache of revelatory, recently discovered documents . . . Marshall’s narrative is smooth and brisk: an impressive feat.” — New York Times Book Review