Elizabeth Bishop’s Favorite Island

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We know Bishop primarily as the eager traveler who wrote of distant, tropical locations and lived for many years as an expat in Brazil. She was that, of course, but she was also an aficionado of her native landscape and climate. Our canon’s consummate poet of geography, maps, and the mystery of spatial awareness loved the oddly shaped North Haven, which lies about halfway between Boston, where Bishop then lived, and Nova Scotia, one of her childhood homes.

Stephanie Bernhard takes a trip to investigate Elizabeth Bishop’s “North Haven”—the poem, and the place.


Marisa Siegel lives, writes, and edits near NYC but thinks twenty times a day about heading back west. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her essay “Inherited Anger” will appear in the anthology Burn It Down, forthcoming from Seal Press in fall 2019. She is Editor-in-Chief and owner of The Rumpus. Find her on Twitter at @marisasaystweet. More from this author →