Poetry is often hard to follow and loaded with deep symbolism. Or, so I thought. After reading “In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop, I did not feel nearly as lost as I do when I usually read poetry. Though Bishop’s poem does have an element of complexity, her simplistic writing style is not “showy” of it. Therefore Bishop is modest in writing this piece, and that is what furthered my understanding of the poem overall.
Throughout “In the Waiting Room,” Bishop uses simple, straightforward words. In this way, she can better describe her complicated thoughts and make the story she is telling more clear to her reader. It is refreshing to read something very crafted that can still be expressed simply. She is the master of “dressing down poetry.” I now understand why Bishop is known for being one of the most prominent poets of the 20th century. Her style has shown readers that poetry can be simple and still maintain a wow factor, which is quite revolutionary.
In class we discussed how the title, Aunt Consuelo’s name, and the supposed pictures in the February 1918 edition of the National Geographic each work to construct the poem. Bishop crafted every detail, whether is was true or not, and made it so that each had a specific purpose in conveying the poem’s message. Of course, this is what all poet’s do. However, Bishop accomplishes a very crafted piece without throwing it in the face of her readers. She uses keen observation of the people around her in the waiting room and of the “horrifying pictures” to give readers a vivid image of her experience. And she writes this observation without any fluff. Thus, when I read “In the Waiting Room,” I am there, with Bishop, in the waiting room.
Because the events that take place in this poem are complicated in themselves, it was smart of Bishop to write simply. In doing so, she accurately described the physical world of her experiences and wrote a piece that is accessible to readers in comparison to most poetry.