"I don't think we need to be too literal"
Clashes betweenNew Yorkerpoets and facts have been constant. "The checking department says it should be 'strait' not straits,'" Katharine S. White wrote to Elizabeth Bishop in 1945, about the first line of "Large Bad Picture." "But if you prefer the sound of the latter I don't think we need to be too literal." Bishop, we learn in the new volume of correspondence between the poet andThe New Yorker, yielded to most editorial requests, and this time was no different. "It's good to have a standard," said Alice Quinn, formerly the poetry editor at The New Yorker and the caretaker of the Bishop legacy. "Accuracy was one of the three qualities Bishop strove for: accuracy, mystery and spontaneity."
The Observer gets the nitty-gritty from the fact-checking department on the decades long battle between poetic license and accuracy at the NYer, where the minor conflagrations went from proper punctuation to whether or not Swedes actually invented the refrigerator.