top of page

Flapper Press Poetry Café Series: My Favorite Poetry—Elizabeth Bishop

By Flapper Press Poetry Café:

The Flapper Press Poetry Café continues a new series of articles about favorite lines of poetry and the poets who wrote them. We’re reaching out to poets, writers, and lovers of poetry to submit their favorite lines of poetry and tell us why you love them.

Check out our submission guidelines and send us your favorites!

We'll feature your submission sometime this year on our site!

This week, our submission comes from Flapper Press contributor Pamela Hobart Carter.

Elizabeth Bishop

From Pamela Hobart Carter:

It was very hard to lose my friend, who requested “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop on her deathbed. I bungled the recitation and had to pull the poem up on my phone. We spoke some of the lines together:

“Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys”

We shared our admiration for Bishop’s tonal layers and ironies—at turns almost glib, instructional, sorrowful. The villanelle’s repeated lines suit the theme of loss and our repeated encounters with it throughout our lives, we agreed. The inevitable ending we expect all along because we know the poetic form, in the same way we know death is coming, in the same way that speaking Bishop’s lines aloud was an acknowledgment that we were saying goodbye. My friend knew Bishop would help us part.

I can go on. I love this poem, and other Bishop poems, so much—how she can come across as hyperbolic in having lost realms, a continent, and two rivers, but she’s also being entirely autobiographical; and her rhymes!—how she yokes “gesture,” “fluster,” “disaster,” and,Pa most creative of all, “last, or” with the perfect rhymes of “faster,” “vaster,” and “master”—but then I’d have to write a book. Her “The Fishis a close second favorite of her poems, and its ending is close seconds for favorite lines that choke me up and have me grinning simultaneously:

“until everything

was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!

And I let the fish go.”


Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry captures a quiet yet detailed focus of a world traveler readily sharing her observations with wit and intelligence. Addressing the themes of longing, grief, and belonging, Bishop is considered one of the most important American poets of the twentieth century. A perfectionist who published only 101 poems during her lifetime, Bishop’s work has been honored with many awards and recognition.

To read the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, visit My Poetic Side.


Pamela Hobart Carter

Pamela Hobart Carter’s plays have been produced in Seattle (her home), Montreal (her childhood home) and Fort Worth. She is the author of three chapbooks: Her Imaginary Museum (Kelsay Books, 2020), Held Together with Tape and Glue (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and Only Connect (ShabdAaweg Press, forthcoming). To find out more about Pamela, visit her website.

66 views0 comments


bottom of page