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

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"In the Village": The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition 2011 -- Still time to enter!!!

There is still plenty of time to enter the writing competition sponsored by the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. The deadline is 15 March 2011. For all the details, visit the EBSNS website: www.elizabethbishopns.org – on the website you will find an electronic brochure, competition guidelines and entry form. You can also able listen to a reading of Bishop’s wonderful story “In the Village,” read by Halifax storyteller Claire Miller, the inspiration for the competition.

Here is some of the information about the competition:

“There are the tops of all the elm trees in the village and there, beyond them, the long green marshes, so fresh, so salt. Then the Minas Basin, with the tide halfway in or out, the wet red mud glazed with sky blue until it meets the creeping lavender-red water. In the middle of the view, like one hand of a clock pointing straight up, is the steeple of the Presbyterian church. We are in the ‘Maritimes’ but all that means is that we live by the sea.” -- from Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Village”

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, MA, on February 8, 1911. Her father died when she was 8 months old and her mother, who was from Great Village, N.S., was permanently hospitalized when Elizabeth was 5 years old. Elizabeth’s earliest years were spent with her maternal grandparents in Great Village, and then with a maternal aunt in Revere, MA. She attended Vassar College in the 1930s. She published her first book, North & South, in 1946 and her last book, Geography III, in 1976. She was Poetry Consultant (now Poet Laureate) at the Library of Congress in 1949-1950. In 1951 she travelled to Brazil where she then lived for 15 years. In the 1970s she returned to the U.S. and taught at Harvard University. Elizabeth died on October 6, 1979. She is buried in Hope Cemetery in Worcester.

February 8, 2011, marks Elizabeth Bishop’s 100th birthday. The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and many other arts groups and artists in the province and elsewhere will celebrate this centenary. Why should we mark the birthday of a poet long dead? Art is one of the enduring expressions of what Elizabeth Bishop described as “the human situation.” Elizabeth Bishop’s art – her poetry, stories, letters and paintings – continue to be read and admired. More importantly, they continue to influence artists today.

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia is committed to raising awareness about Elizabeth Bishop’s connection to Nova Scotia, inside and outside the province, especially among young people. With the approach of the Elizabeth Bishop centenary, it was decided to foster this awareness with a Writing Competition, the details of which are found in this brochure and on the EBSNS website: www.elizabethbishopns.org


Even as she was a world traveller who did not return to Nova Scotia to live (though she continued to visit up until her death), Elizabeth Bishop’s memories of her childhood in Great Village were vivid and profoundly shaped her world view. One of her most famous works, a story which is considered a masterpiece, is “In the Village,” about the earliest years of her life. It affirms the significance of her childhood in all her art. It is a story about identity and the power of experience, memory and imagination.

Elizabeth Bishop once wrote, “Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?” What is it about the place you are from that makes you the person you are? What is it about your experiences and memories that will shape who you will become? Thinking about all that it means (family, community, society, country), how does home affect your dreams and imagination? How does home inspire you?

“In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition, 2011, is a one-time, short prose writing competition sponsored by the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia to celebrate her 100th birthday. Inspired by her story “In the Village,” this competition asks participants to write about their own sense of place and identity, to tap experience, memory and imagination, the sources of art.

Entries can be autobiographical or fictional, prose stories or prose poems. The idea is for each writer to explore or describe feelings, things, people or events about home and family, place and time that have affected your life and connect you to the world.

The Writing Competition was launched on 15 September 2010. Entries will be accepted until 15 March 2011. Judging will occur during April and May. Winners will be announced on 15 June 2011. Prizes will be awarded at a three-day Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writers’ Festival in Great Village, N.S., 12-14 August 2011. Winners and all competition participants are invited to attend the festival, but must do so at their own expense. Winners will receive their prizes and read their winning submissions. If winners are unable to attend, prizes will be shipped.


There is no entrance fee for the competition. Only one submission per person. All submissions must be mailed and accompanied by an entry form – no email submissions accepted. Submissions must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2011. Only winners will be notified. Winners will be announced on the EBSNS website and in the media prior to the Writers’ Festival. Submissions will not be returned.

Elementary (Grades 4-6) – 500 words maximum
Junior High (Grades 7-9) – 1000 words maximum
Senior High (Grades 10-12) – 1500 words maximum
Post-Secondary – 2000 words maximum
Open (19 years and older) – 2000 words maximum

See Guidelines for list of prizes.

The EBSNS will provide an audio reading of “In the Village” on its website, which will be posted in the on 1 April 2010. For entrants who wish to read the story, it is available in Elizabeth Bishop, The Collected Prose, Farrar, Straus, Giroux: http://us.macmillan.com/fsg.aspx, as well as at bookstores and online booksellers.

Guidelines and Entry Form can be found on the EBSNS website: www.elizabethbishopns.org

For more information about the competition and festival contact:
Laurie Gunn at ebwritingcomp@gmail.com

The EBSNS thanks the Robert Pope Foundation, the Colchester Regional Development Agency and Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage for their financial support.

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