Megan Marshall, Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast

Megan Marshall, Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, Wednesday, May 3, 7:00pm at the Odyssey


Event: Megan Marshall, Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
When: Wednesday, May 3, 7:00pm
Where: The Odyssey
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a brilliantly rendered life of one of our most admired American poets

Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America’s most revered poets. And yet—painfully shy and living out of public view in far-flung locations like Key West and Brazil—she has never been seen so fully as a woman and artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop’s letters—to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers—to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares.

These elements of Bishop’s life, along with her friendships with fellow poets Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, both important champions of her work, are brought to life with novelistic intensity. And by alternating the narrative line of biography with brief passages of memoir, Megan Marshall, who studied with Bishop in her storied 1970s poetry workshop at Harvard, offers the reader an original and compelling glimpse of the ways poetry and biography, subject and biographer, are entwined.
Megan Marshall first encountered Elizabeth Bishop in the spring of 1975 when the poet appeared as a guest in a poetry workshop at Harvard taught by Robert Lowell in which Marshall, then a Bennington College dropout, was enrolled as a “special” student. Later, as a transfer student to Harvard/Radcliffe, Marshall was lucky to gain admission to Bishop’s last Advanced Verse Writing class in the fall of 1976. Bishop lived only three more years, dying at 68 of a cerebral aneurysm in 1979.
Marshall had not expected to write a biography of her professor. A long held interest in the origins of New England literary culture, which had lured her from her native California to Vermont and Massachusetts for college, impelled her to research and write the lives of a set of remarkable nineteenth-century women in two award-winning biographies, The Peabody Sisters and Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. Yet she had always sensed that her experience as a young student poet, fortunate “to sport among these gods of verse on an ivied Mount Olympus,” as she writes in Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, predisposed her to the work of biography, fostering a desire to observe greatness up close–whether through a subject’s letters and journals or as an eye witness–and then tell the tale. Her third biography intertwines Bishop’s big-screen life story with Marshall’s own coming-of-age-as-a-writer memoir.
Event date: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
The Odyssey Bookshop
9 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075
Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544617308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - February 7th, 2017