ENGL439B - Major American Writers after 1865: Bishop and Lowell: Poetry and Friendship

“I think sometime a very good course could be given on poets and their letters,” Elizabeth Bishop wrote to  Robert Lowell in 1970. With the 2008 publication of Words in Air, we now have available to us the complete correspondence between two of the supreme poets of the twentieth century. From their first meeting in 1947 to the writing of “North Haven,” Bishop’s elegy for Lowell written in 1978, these two friends kept faith with each other through love affairs, marriages, breakdowns, and steady poetic achievement. We will track this deeply moving story by reading their letters to each other and by reading their poems. The class will be structured as a discussion run by the students; please enroll only if you are ready and willing to talk. Two short papers and a good-sized research paper at the end.

Repeatable to 9 credits if content differs.


Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.