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Last on

Sat 5 May 2012 23:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 29 April 2012

Paul Farley explores the American poet Elizabeth Bishop's extraordinary years in Brazil, and how her rootless, traveller's condition inspired her creativity.

Elizabeth Bishop has been called the poets' poets' poet', and her work, often complex and multilayered, examines the big themes of home, travel and identity. Though she's regarded as an American poet, for nearly two decades Bishop lived in Brazil, where she wrote much of her best work. Essentially an orphan from the age of five, and a constant observer, a 'foreigner everywhere', she speaks to our modern rootless condition, asking how and where we find a sense of 'home'.

The poet Paul Farley, explores how Bishop tackles questions of travel, and how she challenged approaches to other cultures in the early days of mass tourism. Bishop met the love of her life in Brazil, became deeply involved in the Brazilian political tumult of the 1960s, and made the trip of her life up the Amazon river. But her Brazil years also ended in tragedy.

In many ways a poet of our times, Paul explores how Bishop's often overlooked Brazil years offer a new way into her work and its relevance - a constant observer, portraying life in all its nuanced complexity.

Produced by Jo Wheeler
A Brook Lapping Production for BBC Radio 4.

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