“None of the books has ever got it right”: A Review of LOVE UNKNOWN: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop by Thomas Travisano
During my first semester at New York University, I was excited to take a survey course in American Poetry. When the old, male professor passed out the syllabus I wasn’t at all shocked to see that it contained just two women: Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop. This was the early 1990s. A time when no one batted an eye to see a canon that was still almost 100 % white and male. The fact that these two women had crossed the line, had somehow been accepted was extraordinary to me. I tried to love Marianne Moore, but got tangled in her long lines. It was Bishop who spoke to me.
Poetry That Invites Gratefulness in the Midst of Darkness and Blood: A Review of LOUDER BIRDS by Angela Voras-Hills
From the first moment I stepped into Angela Voras-Hills’ collection, Louder Birds, I knew I was in the presence of something vital.
You are growing and this is a starry condition.
Move about this small room called earth
as if fear fell asleep in some other room,
Can cats tell the difference between a real and electric fire
Does cold air blow in or warm air flow out
Do you have dreams where you fly out a window.
There we always were, in always again, enjambed helter skelter on a Sealy
Posturepedic neither could leave. Outside cranes pounded the earth, & dead
Where shall we bury your mother? You asked her once and she said, smiling, why not keep me in the basement? Our basement is a joke, crammed illogically with old toys, kid’s drawings, moldy books, our parents’ teacups and old furniture, our own rough drafts and old taxes. What we just can’t get rid of.
A small silver amulet, an imperfect circle, hangs on a string around my neck. One sister got it for me on my birthday. Then another for herself. And one for the eldest, whose heart had been broken, as well.
The sea is roped off by yellow caution tape and orange barricades, the colors reminding me of jellyfish that sometimes wash up to the shore, that I sometimes mistake for toys.