Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Monday, October 5, 2009

Elizabeth Bishop on Meeting Marianne Moore

I have always been fascinated by the manner in which older and established poets or artists have served as mentors for those just beginning to learn their craft. In recent decades, many of those relationships have developed in the formal setting of the university creative writing programs, places where students choose to be guided by authors on the faculty. I know I have been grateful for the counsel I received as a beginning poet from a few faculty members I regarded as mentors. Indeed, I believe any comprehensive examination of influences in American poetry during the last half of a century would need to explore the inspiration and instruction offered by mentors to their writing students in academic programs, especially with the increased presence of creative writing workshops on campuses across the country and the more structured network of such programs as evidenced by the expansion of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) in the past couple of decades. Nevertheless, one will find a number of prominent poets who also discovered mentors or role models for their writing from associations established outside the classroom.

I was reminded of this as I prepared for classes in the upcoming week, during which students in my Twentieth Century Poetry course and I will discuss the poems of Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop. We also will consider Bishop’s admiration for Moore, as well as Moore’s advice to Bishop. In fact, only Robert Lowell’s later friendship with Bishop matched her ongoing ties to Moore. [Visitors are urged to read “Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetic Voice: Reconciling Influences” for more on this topic.]

Elizabeth Bishop first met Marianne Moore in 1934 when a librarian at Vassar College, which Bishop attended as a student, arranged a meeting between the two near the reading room at the New York Public Library. Bishop later wrote an essay outlining her friendship with Moore, which began on that afternoon in 1934 and continued until Moore’s death in 1972, at the age of 84. That article, “Efforts of Affection: A Memoir of Marianne Moore,” initially appeared in a 1983 issue of Vanity Fair, four years after Bishop’s death, and the piece is included in Elizabeth Bishop: The Collected Prose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984). A wonderful section of Bishop’s essay about her friendship with Moore describes the introduction to one another, on a bench in New York City, and an opening conversation that included a rather unusual invitation, which began a treasured lengthy association for the two poets:

I was very frightened, but I put on my new spring suit and took the train to New York. I had never seen a picture of Miss Moore: all I knew was that she had red hair and usually wore a wide-brimmed hat. I expected the hair to be bright red and for her to be tall and intimidating. I was right on time, even a bit early, but she was there before me (no matter how early one arrived, Marianne was always there first) and, I saw at once, not very tall and not in the least bit intimidating. She was forty-seven, an age that seemed old to me then, and her hair was mixed with white to a faint rust pink, and her rust-pink eyebrows were frosted with white. The large black flat hat was as I’d expected it to be. She wore a blue tweed suit that day and, as she usually did then, a man’s “polo shirt,” as they were called, with a black bow at the neck. The effect was quaint, vaguely Bryn Mawr 1909, but stylish at the same time. I sat down and she began to talk.

It seems to me that Marianne talked to me steadily for the next thirty-five years, but of course that is nonsensical. I was living far from New York many of those years and saw her at long intervals. She must have been one of the world’s greatest talkers: entertaining, enlightening, fascinating, and memorable; her talk, like her poetry, was quite different from anyone else’s in the world. I don’t know what she talked about at that first meeting; I wish I had kept a diary. Happily ignorant of the poor Vassar girls before me who hadn’t passed muster, I began to feel less nervous and even spoke some myself. I had what may have been an inspiration, I don’t know—at any rate, I attribute my great good fortune in having known Marianne as a friend in part to it. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was making a spring visit to New York and I asked Miss Moore (we called each other “Miss” for over two years) if she would care to go to the circus with me the Saturday after next. I didn’t know that she always went to the circus, wouldn’t have missed it for anything, and when she accepted, I went back to Poughkeepsie in the grimy day coach extremely happy.


jola said...

Apropos this post I'm reminded of an essay by Alfred Corn that I found online last month. He identifies and discusses a very interesting issue, the question of sincerity in poetry, and how he feels it is undermined by the problematic use, by some poets, of the poison pen (as it were) to conceal - while at the same time conveying to those 'in the know' - negative feelings towards a subject by the use of encrypted double meanings. In this regard, he discusses Elizabeth Bishop's barbed poetic missive whose concealed subject can be read to be Marianne Moore.

(I am wracking my brain trying to remember the train of thought that led me to discover the piece, and I'll be embarrassed if it turns out that it was in direct connection with your excellent website!)


denparser said...

that's a long time ago. i read it before. nice story.

Pangolin said...

Moore's choice to meet Bishop outside the reading room of the New York Public Library was an indication that she took the younger poet seriously. Those in whom she felt she would have less interest she arranged to meet on the Library's front steps.