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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nova Scotia Connections: The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, an international organization

It dawned on a few of us at a recent meeting of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS), a meeting to talk about EB100 plans, that we hadn’t yet posted anything directly about the society on this blog. There is a link to the EBSNS website in the list of permanent links (down this page on the right) and a few posts have announced EBSNS centenary activities, such as “In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition (check out the EB100 link for references to these posts). It “behooves” us, as Bishop wrote in “The Imaginary Iceberg”, however, to make note of the society more fully.

Visitors to the blog have been steadily increasing since it appeared early in 2010. John has made a couple of reports about this increasing traffic. It struck us that perhaps all these visitors, especially those from outside of Canada, might not realize that the EBSNS is an international organization. Being the EBS of Nova Scotia might suggest that membership is limited to Nova Scotia or Canada, but that is certainly not the case.

The average yearly membership of the EBSNS runs around 125. Though not large, this membership has a remarkable diversity. It is comprised not only of academics, but also of a wide range of people from all walks of life (artists, scientists, teachers, students and doctors, all of whom are passionate fans of Bishop’s work). And there are members from around the world — from the United States, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and so on.

You don’t have to live in Nova Scotia to be a member of the EBSNS!

The EBSNS was formed in 1994 by an eclectic group of people who realized that Bishop’s connection to Nova Scotia deserved recognition and celebration — and who also were committed to raising awareness and educating Nova Scotians and the world about her deep roots and enduring bond with her childhood home. The EBSNS has always been centred in Great Village (i.e., there has always been people from the village on the EBSNS Board and most of the society’s events take place in the village), but its reach extends out to the world.

Elsewhere on this blog, I have written about my involvement in those early years of the EBSNS. One thing I would like to say about the society is that even with a relatively small, though remarkably steady, membership, the EBSNS has accomplished a great deal and it is a credit to the dedication of its board and membership — and a testament to the love and admiration for Bishop and her art — that is has lasted for so long.

A few highlights/achievements:
* Publication of a yearly newsletter
* Publication of a number of pamphlets and brochures
* Publication of Expulsion from Paradise: Elizabeth Bishop, 1927–1957, by Thomas Travisano, Anchorage Press, 1995 (the text of the “Elizabeth Bishop Memorial Lecture, delivered in Great Village in the summer of 1995. Sadly, this booklet is out of print.)
* Publication of Elizabeth Bishop: An Archival Guide to Her Life in Nova Scotia (1996), by Sandra Barry (sadly, this is out of print, but much of it is online at Acadia University)
* Publication of Elizabeth Bishop’s Great Village: A Self-Guided Tour (2005), by Sandra Barry and Scott Dickson (definitely not out of print – see the EBSNS website to order)
* Financial contribution to the purchase of the Bulmer-Bowers-Hutchinson-Sutherland family fonds (Elizabeth Bishop’s maternal family collective), which was deposited at Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S., 1996–1997
* Involvement with first Elizabeth Bishop symposium in Nova Scotia, “Divisions of the Heart,” held at Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S., September 1999, and out of which came Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Memory and Place, Gaspereau Press, 2001 (this book is still available through the publisher).
* Construction of pergola-style historical display in Great Village, in partnership with the Great Village Historical Society
* EBSNS website, spring 2009
* Commissioning of setting of “Brazil, January 1, 1502,” by Dinuk Wijeratne, for EB100 celebrations
* EB Centenary blog, March 2010
* EB Centenary events website, autumn 2010
* “In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition, 2011
* Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, 19-21 August 2011

Ribbon-cutting for the Heritage pergola, showing the Elizabeth Bishop panels, Great Village, June 2007

Over the years, the EBSNS has been involved in a number of special is events in Nova Scotia, besides our Annual General Meetings:
* The Elizabeth Bishop Memorial Lecture, by Thomas Travisano, Great Village, 1995.
* Elizabeth Bishop Symposium, Acadia University, Wolfville, September 1999
* “In the Village” Day, Great Village, September 2008
* “Brazil in Great Village” Day, Great Village, October 2009

With the arrival of 2011 and the EB Centenary, the raison d’ĂȘtre of the EBSNS has converged with an increasing global interest in Bishop. As the United States and Brazil (as well as other countries around the world) mark this important anniversary, Nova Scotia/Canada, with the support of the EBSNS, will mark it as well, staking our claim more strongly to our part of this great poet.

This brief profile is meant to highlight the purpose and activities of the EBSNS. As a co-founder, past President and current Secretary, I am proud of all that the EBSNS has accomplished. The EBSNS is taking the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary to renew its commitment to educating Nova Scotians and the world about her abiding connection with her childhood home. Events in 2011 will produce a number of legacy projects for the EBSNS. Stay tuned to learn what they will be.


Another purpose for this post is to remind all our visitors that you are welcome to become a member of the EBSNS, no matter where you live in the world. A one-year membership is only $10. A three-year membership is only $25.00. And for all new members, joining in 2011, the EBSNS is offering a copy of Elizabeth Bishop’s Great Village: A Self-Guided Tour for half price, that is $5.00. Membership also brings with it our annual newsletter and the deep gratitude of the Board for your support of the society and its continuing activities.

Go to the EBSNS website and click on the membership link in the menu. You can pay online if you like, or the old-fashioned way, by mail. The EBSNS is a registered Canadian charity, so it can issue tax receipts for donations, but only for Canadians.

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