1993: Elizabeth Bishop

1993: Elizabeth Bishop

The 1993 Seminar, our eleventh annual, was dedicated to the work of Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979). Among the panelists were many who had known her well, including John Malcolm Brinnin, Mexican poet Octavio Paz, Bishop’s editor Robert Giroux, and poets James Merrill and Richard Wilbur. In cooperation with the Seminar, the Key West Art & Historical Society put on the first-ever exhibition of Elizabeth Bishop’s paintings. The show was held at the East Martello Museum and curated by William Benton, who at that time was working on Exchanging Hats (1996), his simply beautiful book devoted to Bishop’s paintings. The painting reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalog shown here depicts the Key West Armory building (home today to The Studios of Key West) two doors down from Bishop’s Key West home. The exhibition also featured the photographs of Rollie McKenna, including several portraits of Bishop.

In conjunction with the Seminar, Bishop’s former home at 624 White Street was added to the national register of Literary Landmarks on January 4. The photo below, taken by Richard Watherwax, shows James Merrill reading that day in front of the plaque which still adorns the gate at 624, inscribed with the concluding lines from Bishop’s “Questions of Travel:”

    Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?


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