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Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box

Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments

Elizabeth Bishop; Edited and Annotated by Alice Quinn

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From the mid-1930s until her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop published some ninety poems and thirty translations. Yet her notebooks reveal that she embarked upon many more compositions, some existing in only fragmentary form, some embodied in extensive drafts, and many more left as handwritten copies. Edgar Allan Poe & the Jukebox presents, alongside facsimiles of many of the pages from which they are drawn, wistful and comic poems Bishop wrote in high school; poems begun soon after college, reflecting her passion for Elizabethan verse and surrealist technique; love poems and dream fragments from the 1930s and '40s; poems about her Canadian childhood; poems she was working on into the late 1970s, begun decades before; and many other works that have hitherto been quoted almost exclusively in biographical and critical studies.
 
The editor, Alice Quinn, has also mined from the more than 3,500 pages in the Bishop archive rich tangential material, presented in the Notes, that illuminates the poet's sources and intentions, and an appendix offers fascinating work related to the drafts, including two abandoned memoirs of childhood, an unfinished piece on Auden from the early 1930s, pages of an undelivered lecture beginning, "Writing poetry is an unnatural act . . . ," and a draft of a story about her mother's experience teaching school thirty miles from her home in Nova Scotia and becoming (as Bishop wrote in a letter) "so homesick she was taken the family dog to cheer her up."
 
"The unfinished poems should be tremendous from your descriptions," Robert Lowell wrote to her in 1962. This revelatory and moving selection allows us to see those she left behind, bringing us into the poet's laboratory, showing us the initial provocative images that prompted her to begin a poem, illustrating terrain unexplored in the work published in her lifetime, and revealing the artistic resolution she exercised, keeping poems for years in mindful abeyance and releasing only those that lived up to her exacting standard.

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Praise for Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box

"You are living in a world created by Elizabeth Bishop . . . nothing matches the impact of a great artist, and in the second half of the 20th century, no American artist in any medium was greater than Bishop (1911-79). That she worked in one of our country's least popular fields, poetry, doesn't matter. That she was a woman doesn't matter. That she was gay doesn't matter. That she was an alcoholic, and expatriate and essentially an orphan--none of this matters. What matters is that she left behind a body of work that teaches us, as Italo Calvino once said of literature generally, 'a method subtle and flexible enough to be the same thing as an absence of any method whatever.' The publication of Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box, which gathers for the first time Bishop's unpublished material, isn't just a significant event in our poetry; it's part of a continuing alteration in the scale of American life . . . Quinn's notes throughout are superb . . . This is the devoted editing this material needed and deserved." -David Orr, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Elizabeth Bishop; Edited and Annotated by Alice Quinn

  • Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79) won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

    Alice Quinn is poetry editor of The New Yorker and the director of the Poetry Society of America.
  • Elizabeth Bishop Joseph Breitenbach
    Elizabeth Bishop
  • Alice Quinn Robert Falcetti
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Available Formats and Book Details

Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box

Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments

Elizabeth Bishop; Edited and Annotated by Alice Quinn

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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