Author: Lloyd Schwartz

HASHTAG BISHOP: Elizabeth Bishop at the MLA (1976)

For the 1976 Modern Language Association Conference at the Americana Hotel in New York, Sybil Estess, who had recently acquired her Ph.D. from Syracuse University and was one of the first generation of students to write a doctoral thesis on Elizabeth Bishop, put together an ambitious multi-part tribute celebrating Bishop and the publication of Geography III. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first academic conference to so honor Bishop, and the range of the undertaking was rare even for the MLA. In a morning session, Estess herself moderated a panel of young Bishop scholars—Edward Hirsch, Willard Spiegelman, and me (it was my first academic paper about Bishop’s recent poems). In the afternoon, there was another literary session, with Estess again moderating, and which included four senior figures: Ivar Ivask (the editor of Books Abroad discussing Bishop’s being awarded the Neustadt Prize), Marjorie Perloff, Jerome Mazzaro, and Ashley Brown, plus William Meredith reading his charming homage, “Invitation to Miss Elizabeth Bishop.” These talks were followed by a performance (only the second) of Elliott Carter’s …