Elizabeth Bradfield

Elizabeth Bradfield (Poetry) | Truro, MA

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Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of the poetry collections Once Removed; Approaching Ice, which was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Interpretive Work, which won the Audre Lorde Prize and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, West Branch, The Atlantic Monthly, Orion and many anthologies. Founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press as well as a contributing editor to Alaska Quarterly Review, she lives on Cape Cod, works as a naturalist locally as well as on expedition ships, and teaches creative writing at Brandeis University. (www.ebradfield.com)


Once Removed (Persea 2015)
Approaching Ice (Persea, 2010)
Interpretive Work (Arktoi/Red Hen, 2008)



I truly enjoy giving readings, teaching classes and engaging — doing so with people who love poetry AND people who might be a bit tentative about the genre. I have often given presentations that explore the intersection of science and poetry. These are drawn from my many years of working as a naturalist and involve images.

Press & Reviews

..The uneasy connection between ecological mindfulness and expedient economics complicates Bradfield’s perspective, making her a trustworthy guide…Encounters in the wild, in non-traditional families, and in distinctive cultural settings occasion poems in which the speaker negotiates physical and psychological proximity. The ghazal “At Sea,” a rich rendering of weeks on a boat, includes this couplet on the speaker’s intimate life: “Rendezvous in the gear locker, tryst in dry stores. Unbound / horizon and surge. A pity it’s strange to be queer at sea.” I admire Bradfield’s handling of the contrast between “gear locker” and “dry stores” and “unbound / horizon and surge,” vivifying the confinement the queer couple experiences. The “confinement” of living in a single (human) body comes up throughout the book…
—Robin Becker, reviewing Once Removed in The Georgia Review

Some poets take nonhuman nature as just one more subject; for Bradfield, however, plants and animals—Atlantic seascapes, tropical forests, marine mammals, migratory seabirds—give most of her poems their reason to exist… Bradfield also writes honestly, lovingly, of her partner (a woman), her sister, and her sister’s young child, but the dominant notes come from far outside Bradfield’s home life—from the wooden maps of Inuit navigators; from the vicissitudes of shipboard life in her lengthy ghazal “At Sea”; from “the iced-over river, Alaska Range,” with its “spruce and spruce and a few hours / of thin blue sky.”
—Stephen Burt, reviewing Once Removed in the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of American Poets

At once erotic and unnatural, scientific, and humane, the work presents a beautiful and grim and threatened lexicon of ice and icebergs. Examining “the age-old lust for places/ we pretend are free of consequence,” Bradfield also reminds us of our ultimate limitation—mortality—and of the faint human traces any of us, even the boldest, leave.
—Tess Taylor, reviewing Approaching Ice in The Barnes & Noble Review

There is no stumbling in these factually accurate poems. Good stories, yes, but inherent throughout is a subtle message, as seen in a poem dedicated to Bering: “So the age-old lust for places/ we pretend are free of consequence/ The land ate them as they ate the land,/ calling it need, worrying about it later.” Why did these men and women risk so much for discovery? As Bradfield suggests, they long “to touch/ the unspoiled.” VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone who reads contemporary poetry.
The Library Journal on Approaching Ice

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