Poetry: Lowell and Bishop On Fish

October 27, 2008 By: Marshall Cutchin

In this week’s New Yorker, Dan Chiasson writes about the quirky correspondence of poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop in the mid-twentieth century. “Staying at the home of Pauline Hemingway in Key West and deep in what she called her ‘female Hemingway’ phase, Bishop wrote of catching amberjack and jewfish. Lowell, fresh from charming William Carlos Williams’s ninety-one-year-old mother, responded that he had once ‘tried swimming’ but ‘was nearly drowned and murdered by children with foot-flippers and helmets and a ferocious mother doing the crawl.'”
If you’re a poetry fan, Bishop’s “At the Fishhouses,” published in 1947, is a wonderful escape to the northeast U.S. coast and to a fast-fading picture of what commercial fishing once was.