By Sarah Ruhl
A relocating, leading edge play in keeping with one of many maximum correspondences in literary history
From 1947 to 1977, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop exchanged greater than 400 letters. Describing the writing in their poems, their trip and day-by-day health problems, the pyrotechnics in their romantic relationships, and the profound affection they'd for every different, those missives are the main intimate checklist to be had of either poets and one of many maximum correspondences in American literature.
The playwright Sarah Ruhl fell in love with those letters and set herself an strange problem: to show this thirty-year trade right into a level play, and to deliver to existence the friendship of 2 writers who have been infrequently even within the related nation. As leading edge because it is relocating, Dear Elizabeth provides voice to a talk that lived as a rule in writing, illuminating a few of the best poems of the 20 th century and the minds that produced them.
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Additional resources for Dear Elizabeth: A Play in Letters from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and Back Again
For those who got permission—IF you hadn’t replaced them … yet artwork simply isn’t worthy that a lot. I hold remembering Hopkins’ impressive letter concerning the thought of a “gentleman” being the top factor ever conceived—higher than a “Christian” even, definitely than a poet. it's not being “gentle” to exploit own letters that way—it’s merciless. normally, I deplore the “confessional”—however, if you wrote lifestyles experiences might be it was once an important stream, and it helped make poetry extra genuine, clean and rapid. yet now—ye gods—anything is going, and i'm so ailing of poems in regards to the scholars’ moms & fathers and sex-lives etc. I can’t endure to have whatever you write inform what we’re fairly like in 1972 … might be it’s so simple as that. DOLPHIN is marvelous—no doubt approximately that—I’ll write you every part i love someday! LOWELL enable me write you correct away … my first scattered impressions—my thank you. such a lot of your reservations appear more likely to be correct and invaluable. i'm conversing approximately your short line to line objections— BISHOP i used to be so relieved to get your letter—I was once exceptionally afraid I’d been crude, rude … although, i believe you’ve misunderstood me a bit. LOWELL i didn't see Lizzie’s letters as slander, yet as sympathetic, although unavoidably lousy for her to learn. I took out the worst issues written opposed to me, in order to not look self-pitying. i may say the letters are lower, doctored, half fiction … BISHOP My aspect was once that one can’t combine truth & fiction— What i've got objected to on your use of the letters is that i feel you’ve replaced them—& you had no correct to do this. I do see how when you've got written a fully marvelous, or passable, poem—it’s tough to think about altering anything … LOWELL It’s oddly adequate a technical challenge in addition to a gentleman’s challenge. How can the tale learn in any respect with no the letters? It’s the revelation of a spouse short of her husband to not depart her, and who does depart her. That’s the difficulty, now not the combination of fact and fiction. nobody may item if I acknowledged Lizzie was once donning a red and pink gown, while it was once yellow. BISHOP i think I’ve frustrated you good enough, yet I can’t face up to this from Kierkegaard: LOWELL the difficulty is the letters make the ebook; they make Lizzie genuine past my invention … BISHOP “The legislations of delicacy, in response to which an writer has a correct to exploit what he himself has skilled— She has an bronchial asthma assault. BISHOP LOWELL is that he's by no means to utter verity How am i able to are looking to damage? damage Lizzie and Harriet? yet is to maintain verity for himself & basically permit or not it's refracted—” LOWELL How can the tale learn with no the letters? BISHOP I don’t provide a rattling what a person like Mailer writes approximately his wives—but I DO supply a rattling what you write! A silence. She attempts to capture her breath, wheezing. He calls her at the cell. She wheezes, attempting to converse, and can’t. BISHOP You talk—I can’t— They dangle up. A silence. LOWELL I’m afraid the unforeseen unhappiness of talking to you, made me speechless. if you acknowledged “You speak, I can’t,” i'll purely contemplate questions and have become speechless.