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«Dazzling Dialectics»

Elizabeth Bishop's Resonating Feminist Reality


Sally Bishop Shigley

Although Elizabeth Bishop is often viewed as an apolitical, purely descriptive poet, her poems are much more rhetorical than they initially seem. Bishop armed her poems with paradox, oxymorons, and strangely androgynous speakers in order to invite the reader to question his or her own ideas about poetry, feminism and gender politics. Starting literally with the first poem in her first book, Bishop's work asks the reader to question not only their casual reading habits, but also the very ability of language to represent reality - a very deconstructive move for a poet who eschewed literary movements and manifestoes.