"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Friday, May 14, 2010

"In the Village": The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition

“I was five. My grandmother had already taught me to write on a slate my name and my family’s names and the names of the dog and the two cats. Earlier she had taught me my letters, and at first I could not get past the letter g, which for some time I felt was far enough to go. My alphabet made a satisfying short song, and I didn’t want to spoil it…. By the time school started, I could read almost all my primer, printed in both handwriting and type, and I loved every word. First, a frontispiece, it had the flag in full color, with ‘One Flag, One King, One Crown’ under it. I colored in the black-and-white illustrations that looked old-fashioned, even to me, using mostly read and green crayons.”

[Elizabeth Bishop, “Primer Class,” The Collected Prose, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1984.]

Learning to read and write is arguably the single most important primary education for any writer. Elizabeth Bishop had a particularly vivid recollection of the process which brought her to this uniquely human accomplishment. Her earliest memories of learning to read and write are set in her grandmother’s kitchen in the house in Great Village, quickly followed by her first formal pedagogical experience at the Great Village School. Both buildings still stand and continue to foster the language and literary arts.


Part of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia’s mission is to raise awareness of Elizabeth Bishop’s connection with Nova Scotia, and also to encourage young people to read Bishop’s work. Part of the vision of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary celebrations in Nova Scotia is not only to mark this important anniversary and honour Elizabeth Bishop’s life and art, but also to have Nova Scotian artists of all disciplines and ages pay tribute to Bishop with the creation of new work. Elizabeth Bishop’s art continues to have relevance and influence in the world, and to extend the legacy of that relevance and influence, creating new works of art inspired by her art seems appropriate and exciting.

In the discussions the EBSNS had to decide what projects it would sponsor itself to mark Elizabeth Bishop’s 100th birthday, a writing competition, with a focus on Nova Scotia students from Elementary to Senior High, quickly became the first choice. The society felt a writing competition was an good way to fulfill its mission and the centenary’s vision: bring more young people to Bishop’s poetry and stories and foster creativity and artistic excellence.

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia recently announced “In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition. The competition will officially open for submissions on 15 September 2010 and close on 15 March 2011. Winners will be announced in June 2011 and awards will be presented at an Arts Festival to take place in Great Village, 19-21 August 2011.

Much more information, including Guidelines and Entry Form, about this writing competition can be found can be found on the EBSNS website: www.elizabethbishopns.org – click on the “Writing Competition” link in the menu. Also on the website, you can listen to Halifax storyteller Claire Miller read Elizabeth Bishop’s story “In the Village” (click the audio file link provided on this page).

The EBSNS will have an official launch for the writing competition in September 2010 both in Halifax and Great Village. Stay tuned for more information about this and other centenary events.

No comments:

Post a Comment