Origins of a genius
Literature lovers will be in raptures over Edgar Allen Poe and the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), one of American's most beloved authors. The new volume, assembled by Alice Quinn, poetry editor of The New Yorker, collects for the first time fascinating archival material, giving readers access to lesser-known poems, poems in progress, and brief prose works. Ever-attentive to both nature and culture, Bishop was truly a cosmopolitan poet, and the selections reflect this, categorized as they are by locale: Brazil, Nova Scotia, New York. Overall, the works are formal and orderly, adhering to strict schemes of rhyme and meter, but they're leavened by Bishop's wit and her observant eye, which never fails to provide fresh perspectives. Sometimes you embolden, sometimes bore, she writes of the sea in Apartment in Leme. You smell of codfish and old rain. Homesick, the salt/weeps in the salt-cellars. The collection provides a wonderful glimpse into the origins of Bishop's genius, and her personal evolution the movement from girlhood to womanhood, from the romantic to the ironic can be traced here. Bishop won every prize imaginable during her lifetime, from the Pulitzer Prize to the National Book Award, and with this new volume, it's easy to see why.