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Elizabeth Bishop Birthday Celebration to Open Poet’s Key West Home

KEY WEST, Fla. — Readers and literary fans can honor the life and work of renowned American poet Elizabeth Bishop — and participate in the first public viewing of her Key West home — during the inaugural Elizabeth Bishop Birthday Celebration set for Monday through Saturday, Feb. 3-8.

The United States Poet Laureate in 1949-50, Bishop owned a home in Key West from 1938 to 1946 and was inspired to write many of the poems for her pivotal first book, “North & South,” during her time on the island.

Presented by the organizers of the acclaimed Key West Literary Seminar, the Bishop celebration is to feature lectures, discussions, a documentary film screening and readings related to the poet’s work.

Scheduled highlights include a lecture and book signing by Thomas Travisano, author of the recently released biography “Love Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop.”

Travisano also is to participate in a panel discussion at Bishop’s Key West home, designated a National Literary Landmark in 1993 and acquired by the Key West Literary Seminar in late 2019.

Located at 624 White St. on the edge of the historic Old Town district, the home was built in 1886 in the two-story “eyebrow” style. Bishop once described its distinctive lines as “the most elegant thing in Key West.”

The panel discussion is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, proclaimed “Elizabeth Bishop Day” by Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. Followed by an open house from noon to 2 p.m., it marks the first time the property has been opened to the public for viewing.

Since Feb. 8 is the 109th anniversary of Bishop’s birth, a 4:30 p.m. community poetry reading and cake cutting are scheduled to commemorate the poet’s noted fondness for birthday festivities. Coordinated by the Elizabeth Bishop Key West Committee, the event is to take place in the listening room of the Key West Theater, 512 Eaton St.

Shortly after acquiring the Bishop home, Key West Literary Seminar organizers announced that restoration of the house and grounds would begin in 2020. Subsequently, it is to become headquarters for the nonprofit organization, which has staged the internationally recognized seminar each January for nearly four decades.

Event information and schedule: kwls.org

Bishop owned a home in Key West from 1938 to 1946. Located at 624 White St. on the edge of the historic Old Town district, the home was built in 1886 in the two-story “eyebrow” style.

Bishop owned a home in Key West from 1938 to 1946. Located at 624 White St. on the edge of the historic Old Town district, the home was built in 1886 in the two-story “eyebrow” style.

Thomas Travisano authored the recently released biography “Love Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop.”

Thomas Travisano authored the recently released biography “Love Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop.”

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