Summer 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1991 |

Portrait of a Lady: Isabella Gardner

The Collected Poems by Isabella Gardner Brockport, N.Y.: BOA Editions, 1990. 163 pages. $25.00, $12.50, paper. * "I realize that it is impossible for me to make any statement about my work without continual reference to lived experience and that, correspondingly, I can't talk about my life without wanting to turn it into writing. Most of the poetry I have written is just this: a track, a series of footprints indicating where I've been." (9) Her gravestone reads "Isabella Gardner 1915-1981: Poet," but when I say that I am writing a biography of Isabella Gardner, I either draw a blank, or am regaled with stories about visits to, and thefts from, that most idiosyncratic Boston museum assembled by Isabella Stewart Gardner, "Mrs. Jack," great-great-aunt and godmother to the poet. The publication of Isabella Gardner: The Collected Poems, will, I trust, allow her a deserved share in the fame of her namesake, in whose shadow she lived. She even looked like Mrs. Jack: aristoc

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Photo of Marian Janssen
Marian Janssen is a Dutch writer. She published The Kenyon Review 1939–1970: A Critical History in 1989 and spent the next twenty years or so as the head of Radboud University’s international office. During that period, she wrote Not at All What One Is Used To: The Life and Times of Isabella Gardner. Spurred by a fan mail from Carolyn Kizer’s daughter, Ashley Bullitt, Janssen decided to become a full-time biographer and now is writing the life of Kizer.

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