Cover image for Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss By Susan McCabe

Elizabeth Bishop

Her Poetics of Loss

Susan McCabe

BUY

$35.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-02561-2

296 pages
6" × 9"
1994

Elizabeth Bishop

Her Poetics of Loss

Susan McCabe

“I believe McCabe's work to be of utmost significance to the currently deepening and crucial discussion of Bishop's oeuvre. Its interpretations are affirmative and enabling. Its feminism is synthetic and inclusive, liberating to any reader. Most important, McCabe's is the first book to present Bishop's poetry as a successful entirety, a coherent, humane, and progressive enterprise.”

 

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Elizabeth Bishop represents a full-scale examination of Bishop's work—poetry, prose, and selected unpublished material—to reveal how personal loss becomes implicated in her vision of self as fluid and unfixed and, at the same time, how gender and sexual identity inform the experience of loss in the act of writing. Susan McCabe argues that Bishop counters modernist claims for an autonomous art object and an impersonal artist; Bishop's writing never represents an escape into perfected forms, but instead calls attention to the processes of language that construct identity. McCabe emphasizes how personal experience is deeply enmeshed with Bishop's poetics. Bishop's project returns to her early losses—the death of her father and her mother's madness—and uses them to disclose the instability of the concepts of self or place through a rhetoric of indeterminacy and uncertainty. Although Bishop has recently begun to receive the critical attention she deserves, this book uniquely brings loss to the foreground in connection with identity, gender, and the fashioning of a feminist poetics.
“I believe McCabe's work to be of utmost significance to the currently deepening and crucial discussion of Bishop's oeuvre. Its interpretations are affirmative and enabling. Its feminism is synthetic and inclusive, liberating to any reader. Most important, McCabe's is the first book to present Bishop's poetry as a successful entirety, a coherent, humane, and progressive enterprise.”
“This book develops a coherent and interesting vision of Bishop's work, centering on a poetics of loss and of the homemade. Keeping in view the autobiographical dimensions of Bishop's writing as well as her consciousness of her gender and her lesbianism, the book sensitively explicates Bishop's complex explorations of isolation and connection, her ways of constructing an often soluble self through the imaginative action of memory. McCabe offers insightful readings of the poems, moving easily among Bishop's various works to highlight their connections, and drawing upon an interesting range of theoretical frames. McCabe contributes valuably to current feminist reevaluations of Bishop; she also joins current critical efforts to counter some of the reductive earlier readings that positioned Bishop only as a naturalist, an artist of precise and impersonal description.”

Susan McCabe is Assistant Professor of English at Arizona State University.

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