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Sestina
Sestina
by Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop’s Calling Card

What is the poet’s signature style?

Sneak Attack

Bishop loves to lull you into a sense of safety and security. She's not shy of formal poetry (think also of her famous villanelle, "One Art"), and even when she's not using form, she writes very tidy, A+ stuff.

But what keeps her from being the world's biggest bore is her ability to shake it up sneakily. In this poem she takes a simple domestic kitchen scene and turns it into a psychedelic journey complete with drama (the tears) and jokes (the commentary from the talking stove and almanac). The poem hits the reader on so many different levels that if you're not completely blown away by the end of the poem, you're at least scratching your head. The ability to create curiosity in her readers out of the seemingly normal and commonplace is one of Bishop's greatest strengths.

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