Elizabeth Bishop, who died in 1979, is acknowledged as one of the premier American poets of the 20th century. Robert Lowell said, “I enjoy her poems more than anybody else’s.” Her following has continued to grow, and this extraordinary collection not only of poems but also essays and personal letters is compelling as well as rewarding. This should be required reading of all students of English literature and devotees of poetry. Bishop’s longtime editor, Robert Giroux, and Lloyd Schwartz, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, have co-edited this book with great detail and care. Where else in a single volume can one find a poet’s gift to the world, with her poems, unpublished works, translations, writing from her travels, essays, and delightful personal, often revealing letters?
Even readers who just wish to find out more about Elizabeth Bishop will enjoy perusing this book. Picking and choosing poems to read at one’s own pace, and reading letters and essays on their own, is still an enlightening, interesting time spent reading. Uou do not have to be a poetry lover to enjoy this book, but if you are an aficionado of this genre, you are in for a delight and money well-spent on this amazing collection.
Considering that the publisher, The Library of America, is a nonprofit company dedicated to conserving the most noteworthy writing in remarkable, permanent books, featuring respected texts, one would have to agree that they have certainly met their goal with this collection.