"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop
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"I Am In Need of Music" is Now Available!

http://a4.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Music/v4/5d/76/31/5d763197-8862-1107-3676-cec4e403e20d/773811194137.170x170-75.jpg

New settings of Elizabeth Bishop poems, created for her one hundredth birthday by a stellar band of Canadian composers!

CD purchase: CentreDisc, ArkivMusic
mp3 album: Amazon
iTunes
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Elizabeth Bishop House -- Restoration Efforts

Great Village is starting to repair and restore the damage caused by last Monday's flood, something I have taken to calling the Equinoctial Flood of 2014, invoking Elizabeth Bishop's "equinoctial tears" in "Sestina." There are still a number of signs that something rather dramatic happened, but slowly those properties affected are being tended to. I have been to Great Village a couple of times, including this past weekend, to assess the damage around the Elizabeth Bishop House and to make arrangements for repairs and restoration. As I mentioned in the previous post, the main part of the house is fine, but the front porch needs to be re-secured and the steps rebuilt. Our excellent carpenter, painter, all around handyman Deverne Rushton will be doing this job. The enormous hole at the end of the driveway, seen below, was filled in by the Department of Transportation this past Friday, but there still remains several large holes in the driveway and around the foundation of the house. And there is that large quantity of gravel that was deposited.
Our excellent landscape contractor, Cory Spencer, who has been keeping the lawn looking so lovely all summer, will be restoring the rest of the driveway/foundation and dealing with the gravel.
It appears that our insurance will not cover cleaning up the yard, which while not an enormous task is still quite significant. The owners of the house will be launching a little appeal for help with the yard restoration, in the manner of a crowd-funding campaign, which operates on a give a little, help a lot premise. I'll be posting something about this in the coming days.
Again, we are so grateful to the folks of Great Village for their help. The photos in the previous post were taken by Patti Sharpe the day of the flood. These photos were taken by her, as well, the next day, when the sun had come and and summer had returned. I want to thank her again, for her support through this rather dramatic time. More updates will come. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Elizabeth Bishop House Is Fine

"There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams / hurry too rapidly down to the sea…"
EB, "Questions of Travel"

In about two hours on Monday morning, 22 September 2014 (the first day of autumn), the meteorologists tell us that in parts of Nova Scotia 100mm of rain fell. One of those parts was the Great Village area. This volume of rain in such a short period of time caused the Great Village River to burst its banks, seriously flooding the centre of the village. A torrent of rain-swollen river water inundated the area from Layton’s Store to the bridge, which means that the EB House was in the centre of it all.

I did not witness the flood, but many people in the village did and I was told that around 6:30-7:00 a.m. people noticed some water starting to cross the road, then all of a sudden, a wall of water crashed through. Someone told me that someone remarked, “It was the biggest tidal bore,” they’d seen in some time. It was so bad that the bridge was closed for an hour or so. The rushing water lifted off a large propane tank on the Wilson’s Gas Stop property. After hitting the bridge, causing great concern, it floated down the river and out onto the marsh. A large trailer behind the fire hall was dislodged and moved to the side of the hall. Many photographs and videos were taken of this awesome, shocking sight. The water crested and began to subside as quickly as it had come. As the water drained away, the damage became more visible.

The EB House was in the direct path of this wall of turbulent water and was surrounded. It looked dire. As the water left, what revealed was a great deal of erosion around the foundation of the house. The front step had been taken off and the driveway, from the road to the verandah steps, had been gouged out, along with the shoulder of the road from the EB House to the bridge. Another peculiar thing was that a great quantity (a ton, literally) of earth had been deposited in the backyard of the EB House, a testament to how quickly the water ebbed: that is, it simply dropped large rocks, gravel and mud, as though from a dump truck.

At this point, I want to thank some people for their incredible kindness in checking on the house as soon as it was possible: Meredith Layton, Patti and Harold Sharpe, Deverne and Valerie Rushton. Patti contacted me immediately and told me of the event. She sent me photos, some of which you see in this post. They kept check on the house all day. I went to Great Village on Tuesday morning and all these people, and more (especially Cory Spencer), continued to be truly supportive and helpful. This is the nature of a small community, people care about each other. I know that similar acts of kindness went on for everyone else whose properties were in the path of this vast quantity of water. Bless all the people of Great Village.

I want to say clearly, in spite of the rather awful looking driveway and yard, the Elizabeth Bishop House itself is fine. I attribute this fact to Norman Bowers, who bought the house from Bishop’s maternal family in 1932 (after Bishop’s grandparents had died). One of the things not commonly known about the EB House is that the basement is an amazing place. It has three- and four-foot-thick concrete walls and floor – it looks like Fort Knox. The northeast corner of the floor is open earth because, since it was put on that site, the basement has taken in water from the spring runoff. The water goes in and the water goes out. Additionally, Norman Bowers knew the historic high water mark (the house was surrounded by water during the Great Saxby Gale of 1866, and perhaps once or twice since then – one time in the early 1930s, for example). Nothing has ever been stored there. The furnace is elevated nearly to the ceiling. The well pump and hot water heater are also elevated. I measured the high water mark from this flood: 35 inches. Extreme as that is, the basement took it without much trouble at all. The basement walls go down beyond the external erosion, which means, it was not compromised. The front porch foundation is not part of the main foundation and it will require some work (and a new step), but all in all, the house is secure.

The lovely yard, which is the most visible element, is a mess (besides the gravel, lots of debris floated into it). The clean up of it will begin in earnest as soon as the N.S. Department of Transportation in-fills the shoulder of the road at the beginning of the driveway, a task which needs to be done quickly, because as those who have stayed there know, the corner on which the EB House sits is a busy one.

I am showing you these photos of the height of the event so you can see something of the spectacle. Patti took more photos around the house on Tuesday, after all the water had gone, and I will post some of them as soon as I get them. When the yard is put back to rights, I will post more photos. We are withdrawing the house from market temporarily, but I am writing this post partly to state publicly that the Bishop House is fine. And to thank the community for its caring and concern. There was damage done to other properties and I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to those people and say that I hope the damage is minimal, as it was at the EB House. And I want to thank Norman Bowers, wherever he is in the spheres, for his incredible foresight and action to ensure the EB House is on solid ground (or concrete, as the case may be).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Suzie LeBlanc giving EB presentation in Montreal

On Thursday, 9 October, at 12:30 p.m., at the Atwater Library in Montreal, Suzie LeBlanc will give a presentation about Elizabeth Bishop and will perform some of the songs from "I am in need of music." This presentation is part of the library's "Lunchtime Series" http://www.atwaterlibrary.ca/events/lunchtime-lecture-series. You can find out more about the Atwater Library here: http://www.atwaterlibrary.ca/about-us

Suzie was the final artist in residence at the Elizabeth Bishop House this past weekend, and she spent some time taking photos of the house, village and bay to use in her presentation.

The artist retreat has now closed.

Before her Bishop talk in Montreal, Suzie will be attending a Masterworks Arts Award event. On Monday, 15 September, "the Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Awards Foundation will host a public panel discussion with the creators of the five works selected as the 2014 Finalists for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award. The event will be held in Neptune Theatre’s Scotiabank Studio at 1593 Argyle Street from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m." This event is open to the public.

Suzie also has a new CD, "Suzie LeBlanc La Veillee de Noel de la France a l'Acadie" (apologies for lack of accents) due to launch later this year. She will be giving a performance of this wonderful music in Halifax on 17 December at the Music Room.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Nova Scotia stone

Recently, American poet Michael Morse visited Great Village and stayed at the Elizabeth Bishop House. By his account, he had a pleasant time travelling around the area and spending a lot of time by the Bay of Fundy. On his drive back to New York City, where he lives, Michael stopped in Worcester, MA, and visited Bishop's grave in Hope Cemetery. He sent the photo below: a Nova Scotia stone placed on Bishop's gravestone.


Friday, August 22, 2014

In the Village Afternoon -- a few photos of the gathering

EBSNS President Laurie Gunn took these photographs of the "In the Village" Cafe Afternoon at the St. James United Church. Check out the post below this one to learn more about the events of that lively and inspiring afternoon.

We had a good audience who were most appreciative of all excellent presenters. Here we are all enjoying tea and blueberry treats in the cafe.

As emcee, I got to introduce all our young presenters. Here is ten-year-old Anneka Stroinktalking about her experience portraying Elizabeth Bishop in John Scott's short filmsbased on Bishop's poems "First Death in Nova Scotia" and "In the Waiting Room."

Everyone listening attentively.





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"In the Village" Afternoon a success

On Sunday, 17 August 2014, the EBSNS hosted a gathering of five young artists at the "In the Village" Cafe in St. James United Church in Great Village. These young artists included: Maria Duynisveld, Libby Schofield, April Sharpe, Laura Sharpe, and Anneke Stroink. We were excited to have an audience of around forty people. The young presenters did a fantastic job, reading Bishop poems and their own work, and talking about their experiences being involved in Bishop activities and projects. I'll be posting some photos of this event soon, but this note is to alert you to a wonderful blog post written by one of our participants, Libby Schofield. I wanted to direct you to her blog and website and urge you to read her most thoughtful essay about her connection to Elizabeth Bishop and Great Village. Thank you, Libby, for your kind words. We are so proud of you and glad to hear that your involvement in the EB100 Writing Competition was so important and meaningful for you. Keep your ears and eyes open for Libby -- she will be doing wonderful things in the future -- as we know all these young women will be.

Libby's blog and website:

http://libbyschofield.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/in-the-village-ebsns-supporting-young-artists/

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Suzie LeBlanc talks Elizabeth Bishop on Bluenose Opera House, 10 August 2014


On Sunday evening, 10 August 2014, Suzie LeBlanc will be co-host in the first hour of the Bluenose Opera House. She will talk about "I am in need of music," the Elizabeth Bishop legacy recording, and other things musical. You can find out more about the show and how to listen at:
http://www.bluenoseoperahouse.ca/recent-co-hosts