Shedding Spectatorship: An Examination of Immersion in Experience in the Travel and Art Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop
Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)
Colby College. English Dept.
This project began as a means of fulfilling a deeply rooted need that I had to explore poetry's ability to act as vehicle for both personal expression and growth. Elizabeth Bishop's unique way of transforming the seemingly ordinary details of life into meaningful, charged signs of both individual identities and cultures was mesmerizing. I aimed to get to the heart of Bishop's poetry about travel and art, through an analysis that disregarded her biographical information (however interesting) and focused on what Bishop chose to publish in her poetry. In a seemingly impersonal way, Bishop is, at times, deceptively introspective, even when her observations seem vague and her images associative. Afraid of being hurt, Bishop is continually weighing the risks of immersion versus regulation of her emotions and experiences. In the final pages of my thesis, I've enclosed some of my own poetic attempts at discovering myself through the lens of the world around me. Both in writing my own poetry and in unpacking the dense detail of a portion of Bishop's work, I have learned that what is at stake in poetry is no different from what is at stake in life. Upon discovering Bishop's poetry, "I really wanted to go no farther," but motion is perpetually calling to both Bishop and myself. In her poetry and in mine, there is only a series of ongoing negotiations, none of which are ever stable, and none of which ever truly last.
travel, growth, poetry, female, American
Recommended CitationPongan, Lauren M., "Shedding Spectatorship: An Examination of Immersion in Experience in the Travel and Art Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop" (2009). Honors Theses. Paper 1205.
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