Friday, July 30, 2010

Poem Friday - One Art - Elizabeth Bishop

It's a grey morning and I need to get writing before the morning is gone. I've just found out that my AWP panel was not accepted. Bummer. The good news is that 2011 would have Elizabeth Bishop's 100th birthday and so there will be a birthday party for her in Washington DC. She is my touchstone poet, my travel poet, my poet who gave me permission to explore the world. I have taught her work in Seattle and in Cape Town, read her in odd airport hotels and in the House of Sky. Today I am in need of her company once again.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


  1. I live in the area. I'll be eager to know the details of the birthday celebration.

  2. Hi Maureen, White Pine Press is also planning an off-site reading that Kelli and I will be part of ...we are just in the beginning stages. If you have suggestions / contacts for a good place to read -- that would be grand!

  3. well, i love the idea of the 'art of losing' on this day of our communication. kevin

  4. Dear Kevin,

    If only all losses were solved so easily :-) A little bit of mystery, a little bit of reclamation ---and hopefully all will be well.