Monday, November 21, 2011

In the early-1950s, while living in Petropolis, Brazil, Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) met Clarice Lispector and became enchanted by her stories, a few of which Bishop translated and sent to the New Yorker, who were "interested."

Bishop also sent letters to her friend Robert Lowell. In a June 1963 letter, she wrote (of Lispector):

"...she's the most non-literary writer I've every known, and 'never cracks a book' as we used to say. She's never read anything that I can discover -- I think she's a 'self-taught' writer, like a primitive painter."

Below is a poem by Bishop:


Days that cannot bring you near
or will not,
Distance trying to appear
something more obstinate,
argue argue argue with me
neither proving you less wanted nor less dear.

Distance: Remember all that land
beneath the plane;
that coastline
of dim beaches deep in sand
stretching indistinguishably
all the way,
all the way to where my reasons end?

Days: And think
of all those cluttered instruments,
one to a fact,
canceling each other's experience;
how they were
like some hideous calendar
"Compliments of Never & Forever, Inc."

The intimidating sound
of these voices
we must separately find
can and shall be vanquished:
Days and Distance disarrayed again
and gone...

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