Background

Elizabeth Bishop, one of the most important American poets of the twentieth century, summered on North Haven from 1974 to 1979. During her stay, she kept a journal in which she described her life on our small island, her impressions of the people she met, and the physical beauty of her surroundings.

sympo cover cropped w-out textIn 2013, with the help of a generous benefactor, the North Haven Library obtained permission from Farrar, Straus & Giroux to publish the journal as a book. Eleanor M. McPeck, a summer resident, agreed to edit the journal and write an introduction to it, in which she highlights the importance of the contents as a means of understanding Bishop’s creative processes: “The content and tone of expression vary from day to day according to the poet’s mood. She is on some days attentive and focused, on others dreamy and reflective. Interspersed throughout are jottings, notations of letters to be written, and fragments of incomplete poems.”

In conjunction with publication of Elizabeth Bishop: The North Haven Journal, 1974-1979, we decided to offer our community and others the opportunity to learn more about Elizabeth Bishop. We assembled a group of scholars, former students, and leading figures in the poetry world to explore in a symposium format Bishop’s role as a teacher, leading American poet, and muse. Our objective is to encourage and inspire further discovery and learning. We expect that a transcript of the symposium will become available on the Library’s website NorthHavenLibrary.org in the latter part of 2015.

For further background reading about Bishop, we suggest the following links:

Wikipedia

The Elizabeth Bishop Society

The Academy of American Poets

The Poetry Foundation