Elizabeth Bishop poetry event Oct. 23

WUSTL faculty among those to read works of famed American poet

Washington University Libraries and the St. Louis Poetry Center will present a program featuring the works of renowned American poet Elizabeth Bishop at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, in Wilson Hall, Room 214, on Washington University’s Danforth Campus.

St. Louis Poetry Center

A reception will follow in the Ginkgo Reading Room in the nearby Olin Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Joelle Biele, editor of the book Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence, published this year, will read Bishop’s correspondence with The New Yorker, as will Lorin Cuoco of the St. Louis Poetry Center.

In addition, poems by Bishop will be read by WUSTL faculty and writers Mary Jo Bang, professor of English in Arts & Sciences; William Gass, PhD, the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities in Arts & Sciences; Carl Phillips, professor of English and a finalist for this year’s National Book Award in poetry; and Catherine Rankovic, instructor in creative writing.

Bishop (1911-1979) is considered one of the United States’ greatest poets. After graduating from Vassar College in 1934, she published her first book of poetry, North & South, in 1946. Her other books include A Cold Spring, which won the Pulitzer Prize; Questions of Travel, which was awarded the National Book Award; and Geography III, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Bishop published the majority of her poems in The New Yorker. Her relationship with the magazine went back to 1933 and continued until her death in 1979.

During 40 years of correspondence, hundreds of letters passed between Bishop and her New Yorker editors. Their correspondence provides a look into Bishop’s writing process, the relationship between a poet and editors, the internal workings of The New Yorker, and the process of publishing a poem.

Washington University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections has been collecting materials for its Modern Literature Collection since 1964. Its collection includes the correspondence between Bishop and poet May Swenson, made up of more than 250 letters. It also represents more than 175 authors, including Swenson, Gass, Samuel Beckett, James Merrill, Howard Nemerov, Sylvia Plath and Mona Van Duyn. For more information, visit library.wustl.edu/units/spec.

The St. Louis Poetry Center, founded 65 years ago, is the oldest organization of its kind west of the Mississippi River. It presents monthly events and workshops for writers and those interested in poetry and sponsors contests and outreach programs in schools and prisons. For more information about the St. Louis Poetry Center, visit stlouispoetrycenter.org.

For more information, call (314) 935-5495. For a map of campus, visit parking.wustl.edu/parkingmap_2010.pdf.