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Elizabeth Bishop: Minimalist poet getting the Tupac treatment
Dwight Garner reviewed the Elizabeth Bishop trifecta today—her poems, prose, and her complete correspondence with the New Yorker—and while he’s into it, he’s got some reservations:
Bishop published, intentionally, very few poems during her life, only 100 or so. She was a taker-outer, not a putter-inner. (“I’ve always felt that I’ve written poetry more by not writing it,” she said.) Since her death, though, she’s become the Tupac Shakur of American poets, with a fat new remixed volume of her fragments or letters seemingly issued every five years. And the editor of “Poems” and “Prose” warns us that her archives are far from exhausted.
“Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker” is not an overwhelmingly necessary book either. It is repetitive, filled with dreary bookkeeping details and overly polite give-and-take. At the same time, there are those — and, full disclosure, I am among them — for whom this kind of shop talk from an adored poet and her serious editors is uncut catnip.