My first spotlight poet is Elizabeth Bishop, who is my personal favorite poet and, in my opinion, one of the best technical poets to ever live.
Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, MA on February 8, 1911. Her mother was mentally ill, and her father passed away when she was about one year old, so she was raised by her maternal grandparents in Nova Scotia, Canada. During her childhood years, she received very little formal education, but she was an avid reader. She attended boarding school and Vassar College, where she founded a literary magazine. While she was an undergraduate, she published her first poems, which attracted the attention of poet Marianne Moore, who became Bishop’s mentor and dear friend.
Bishop was independently wealthy and traveled extensively, visiting Europe, Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, North Africa, Ireland, and Italy before finally settling in Key West, FL for four years. She became a reputable poet, and her poetry was heavily inspired by her travels. She was mostly known for her focus on commonplace objects and occurrences, and her work carries strong emotions, sharp wit, and vivid imagery. Bishop’s poetry concentrates on her impressions of the physical world, unlike other poets during her time who tended to write in the “confessional” style, with explicit accounts of their personal lives.
Bishop published sparingly, releasing only approximately 100 poems in her collection, but her poetry was technically brilliant and reflected her moral sense, and her works established her as a major force in literature. Bishop received the Pulitzer Prize in 1956 and the National Book Award in 1970, and she was awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets in 1964.
Bishop died on October 6, 1979 in Cambridge, MA, but her popular works continue to perpetuate her legacy today.