Please enjoy the last of our National Poetry Month reviews, a couple days late.
Adult/High School–Bishop (1911-1979) received many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1970 for her Complete Poems. This new edition of her collected poetry was released in celebration of the centennial of her birth. Being independently wealthy, Bisop was able to travel and live abroad. Many of her poems treat her travels, and she knew Portuguese, French, and Spanish well enough to translate the work of other major poets. Her poems will be appreciated by teens for their accessible style. “Questions of Travel,” the title poem from a book set in Brazil, is a good example. “There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams/ hurry too rapidly down to the sea,/ and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops/ turning to waterfalls under our very eyes./ For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,/ aren’t waterfalls yet,/ in a quick age or so, as ages go here,/ they probably will be.” “North Haven” was written in memory of her friend Robert Lowell. “You left North Haven, anchored in its rock,/ afloat in mystic blue…And now—you’ve left/ for good. You can’t derange, or re-arrange,/ your poems again.” This is a fine collection that students will want to read and ponder, including the collection of facsimiles of previously unpublished poems at its conclusion.–Karlan Sick, formerly at New York Public Library