Worcester Poet Bishop centennial: Clark U. plans tribute, concert

In honor of the centennial of Elizabeth Bishop’s birth in Worcester, Clark University will host "A Mirror on Which to Dwell": Elliott Carter's Settings of Six Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, on Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in Tilton Hall, 2nd floor at the Higgins University Center.

"An amazing night" -- Read a review, "Music, poetry blend to celebrate Elizabeth Bishop" in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (4/23).

Lloyd Schwartz will provide introductory remarks, "Elizabeth Bishop: From Worcester to the World."  Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  He is the classical music critic for The Boston Phoenix and a regular commentator on NPR's “Fresh Air.” The author of several volumes of poetry, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1994. He is the co-editor of the authoritative edition of Bishop’s poetry, “Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, Letters” (Library of America, 2008).

“It is fitting and important for Clark University to honor one of Worcester’s great daughters in the centennial year of her birth,” said Professor Robert Tobin, the Henry J. Leir Chair in Foreign Languages and Cultures at Clark University.

The East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE) will perform Elliott Carter's "A Mirror on Which to Dwell.” Jeffrey Means will conduct the ensemble and soprano Jo Ellen Miller will sing. ECCE will perform the piece again on Tuesday, May 3, at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center.  Based in New York City and directed by Clark University’s Assistant Professor of Music John Aylward, the ECCE’s mission is to promote new forms of engagement with modern music.

Elizabeth Bishop was born on February 8, 1911, in Worcester. Perhaps her most famous poem directly connected to Worcester is “In the Waiting Room." Bishop went on to become Poet Laureate of the United States and a recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She spent much of her life in Brazil, returning at various points to teach at the University of Washington, Harvard University, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is buried in Worcester.

Elliot Carter, born in 1908, is one of America’s and the world’s pre-eminent composers. His 1975 piece, “A Mirror in which to Dwell,” sets six Elizabeth Bishop poems to music, including, “Anaphora,” “Argument,” “Sandpiper,” “Insomnia,” “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress,” and “O Breath.” Carter’s work was initially commissioned by Speculum Musicae to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States.

“A Mirror on Which to Dwell” is sponsored by the Henry J. Leir Chair with generous support from Clark University’s Higgins School of the Humanities, the Department of English, and programs in Communication and Culture, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Music.

The event is part of a series of celebrations of the centennial of Elizabeth Bishop's birth, coordinated by the Worcester County Poetry Association.  For more information, please call Professor Tobin at 508-793-7353.