ABSTRACT

I want to read Elizabeth Bishop’s 1976 poetry collection, Geography III, through the lens of topo-poetics. Topopoetics combines topos (place) with poetics (more or less “making”). Poetry, through this lens, is a kind of place making. The critical practice of topopoetics involves reading poetry in relation to place. It is not so much the often written about relationship between poetry and the senses of place of particular places (say Heaney in Ireland). Rather it is about the idea, do place and the ways poems negotiate place as an idea, often through the space of the poem itself. It is about place in poems more than poems about place. 1 Here I offer a topopoetic reading of some poems by Elizabeth Bishop. I reflect on several aspects of place in her poems including the “thinginess” or “gathering” qualities of her poems, the poetic attempt to find home – to dwell, and the overwhelming sense of lack that comes from failure to dwell.