"At the Fishhouses" by Elizabeth Bishop + Crab Mac & Cheese

The title of my graduate school lecture was "A Workshop with Elizabeth Bishop." To prepare, I read everything she ever wrote including poetry, prose, interviews, and letters, and extracted the key bits of writing wisdom she offered throughout her career. I intertwined these nuggets throughout more anchoring bits of material like commentary on specific poems and historical references to her life and career. It was a nice way to end the previous two years because it gave me something tangible to carry with me as I embarked on my future outside of academia. Beyond the basics such as keep a notebook, learn Latin and use a dictionary, her key manifesto was "always seek to improve." She once said, "I never have any sense of elation after I've finished. All I ever can see is room for improvement." Bishop was her toughest critic, which is one of the reasons her poems took years to write, or weren't written at all (her Collected Poems is one of the slimmest volumes of any poet on record.) I do think she could have stood to be a little easier on herself, though.