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A figure in an Elizabeth Bishop poem—a charming Brazilian man named Manuelzinho,“the worst gardener since Cain”—so piqued Leesa Dean’s interest that she mined words and images from Bishop’s body of work in order to create a larger world for him to occupy. The result is The Filling Station, a lyrical novella-in-verse drawn uniquely from Bishop’s lexicon in which Manuelzinho takes a wife (and a lover), has a daughter, and grieves his dying father. Shifting from rain-soaked villages to the barren, haunting landscape of Itabira, this novella is a compelling example of poetry’s extraordinary capacity for encapsulating human experiences—love, time, memory—and for reanimating those experiences in the reader’s imagination.


-Review by Amanda Earl

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