“The Map Shows Me Where It Is You Are”: Gloria Oden Responds to Elizabeth Bishop Across National Geographic and Rand McNally World Maps
Keywords:American Poetry, African-American Poetry, Gloria Oden, Elizabeth Bishop, Twentieth-Century World Maps, National Geographic Society, Rand McNally & Company
AbstractAfrican-American poet Gloria Oden was among those inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s seminal poem “The Map” (1934). In honor of Bishop, Oden wrote two poems about reading maps: “A Private Letter to Brazil” (1957) and “The Map” (ca. 1961). Like May Swenson’s “The Cloud-Mobile,” Oden’s poems overtly pay homage to Bishop. Like Howard Nemerov’s “The Mapmaker on His Art” and Mark Strand’s “The Map,” Oden’s verses reveal that she shares in Bishop’s understanding of the mapmaker’s art: its imaginative power and limitations, its technical achievement and arbitrary nature. Yet Oden’s two poems are far more politically and historically nuanced than Bishop’s “The Map”—or than any of the other map poems written shortly after Bishop won the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for her collection opening with “The Map” (Poems: North & South—A Cold Spring). Furthermore, unlike her peers, Oden found inspiration in Bishop’s poem and in an identifiable contemporary map. By comparing both of her poems to Bishop’s original as well as uncovering, with the help of Oden’s own words, the identity of her maps, this paper will demonstrate how Oden’s penetrating critique of two popular 1950s wall maps helped her connect not only with Bishop but also with the world she found reflected in, or absent from, the map.
How to Cite
Haft, A. J. (2008). “The Map Shows Me Where It Is You Are”: Gloria Oden Responds to Elizabeth Bishop Across National Geographic and Rand McNally World Maps. Cartographic Perspectives, (61), 8–35. https://doi.org/10.14714/CP61.212
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication, with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).