She was supposed to stay for two weeks – that became 15 years. After moving to an apartment overseeing Copacabana beach, Bishop fell in love with carioca socialite Lota de Macedo Soares, the architect responsible for the design of Parque do Flamengo. There, Elizabeth wrote some of her best poems and translated books by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and João Cabral de Melo Neto. About Drummond, she said: “I didn’t know him at all. He’s supposed to be very shy. I’m supposed to be very shy. We’ve met once — on the sidewalk at night. We had just come out of the same restaurant, and he kissed my hand politely when we were introduced.”
In 1956, during her Rio phase, she won the Pullitzer prize for a collection of her poetry. Later, she moved to Petrópolis (once the royal retreat and, more recently, one of the cities in the state of Rio affected by heavy floods) and also to historic Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais. Finally, in the late sixties, she decided to return to the US (and was followed by Lota, who committed suicide a few days later). Back home, Elizabeth Bishop became a Harvard and MIT professor.
Always analytic, not always kind, Bishop comments on Brazilian ethnicity and racial relations at the time: Continue reading Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil