Post # 8

Prof. K is very fond of American poet Elizabeth Bishop. I read The Fish and it blew my mind––impeccable empirical observation that evokes a sensorial affect. Bishop displays wonderful control of the line in describing the minutiae of the hook-mouthed gunnel fish. I’m drawn to her idiosyncratic conjuring of the materiality of the fish. It’s ‘pink swim-bladder/ like a big peonie.’ Its ‘lenses of old scratched isinglass’––gasp. Bishop beholds the embattled fish with affection. I enjoyed reading Michael Hoffmann’s essay on her work. He writes in his collected essays Where Have You Been? (2014) that: ‘Bishop makes writing seem like breathing’ (Hoffmann.M. 2015: 9). And he concedes Bishops far greater talent over her longtime friend and correspondent Robert Lowell. But, I prefer Hoffmann’s essay on Ted Hughes. It is the best in his collection. He rather stunningly reviews Hughes’ most recent collected works (edited by Paul Keegan). I am very drawn to Hofmann’s sojourns through Hughes’ oeuvres because he adopts a lyrical style much in the vein of Hughes, appropriating a muscular language––a kind of homage critique. Hoffman’s prose seems to hold up to Hughes’ work––to heighten the senses. Whilst reading Hofmann’s essay I entered into his tightly packed language, his density of utterance and felt that I was luxuriating in his excess––up-skilling.