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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

FIRST ENCOUNTER XXXIV: "Profundidad de la superficie" -- a poem for Elizabeth Bishop by Yolanda Pantin

Profundidad de la superficie

Lo que no saben tus amigos
es que en Great Village, Nueva Escocia,
vivió aquella poeta que tanto hemos leído
y a la que hubiésemos querido visitar
en una peregrinación a sus orígenes,

que es como decir, a su mirada,
recién nacida al mundo
cuando el grito de su madre
se escuchó en todo el pueblo,
hasta su confinamiento.

No gaitas gaélicas,
sino una niña huérfana
que leía el National Geographic
en los consultorios médicos.

De manera que en el relato de viaje
que ahora escuchamos
falta un detalle, qué digo,
el phatos de esa geografía

que ofrece al dolor
madera blanda, escribió LoweIl,
y focas moviendo sus cabezas
igual que girasoles.

Pedalear hasta la orilla,
en una de las islas,
quince millas sin descanso,
entre pescaderías,
siguiendo el rastro que supongo
de rudos navegantes, no
te hará dueño de algo.

Ni haber vivido algunos días,
como nosotras lo hicimos
en aquel poblado, compartiendo
una rutina de trabajo.

Pero ambas tenemos un secreto
que el ímpetu de ese nuevo recorrido,
hoteles, carreteras, barcos que acarrean
bicicletas, de Maine a Nueva Escocia,
no nos habrá robado.

Discreción es la palabra, reticencia, tal
resumen la poética de Elizabeth Bishop.

No nos pertenece su experiencia, desde luego,
ni otro itinerario, pero sobre la brillante superficie
de esos paisajes que hemos anhelado, sí,
haber reconocido por ella
la profundidad de su desconcierto.
YOLANDA PANTIN (born in Caracas, 1954) studied letters at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. She was associated with the women poets known as "generación78" and was a member of the "Tráfico" group. She was one of the founders of the Editorial Pequeña Venecia and of the Casa de la Poesía, and has won many poetry prizes. In 2004 she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. She is the author of ten books of poetry; her work was collected in Poesía reunida 1981-2002 (Otero ediciones, Caracas, 2004). She has also published children's books.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

“In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition, 2011, Winners

On 18 June 2011, at its Annual General Meeting, the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia announced the winners of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition. The winners have been notified and have been invited to attend the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, 19-21 August, at which time they will receive their prizes and read their winning stories. While not all winners will be able to attend, we are excited to say that a number of them will be present, including our First Prize winner in the Adult (Open), who is from Australia. The awards ceremonies and readings for the various categories will take place throughout the day on Friday, 19 August 2011. For those winers who are not able to attend, arrangements will be made for their submission to be read. The Writing Competition committee will be in touch with everyone who submitted and all participants are invited and most welcome to attend the Arts Festival. Our judges had a difficult time choosing the winners and were impressed by the overall calibre of submissions. The Writing Competition Committee and the EBSNS are grateful to everyone who submitted their work for consideration. We had 106 entries, submitted to all categories. For more information about the competition, the winners and the awards ceremonies, contact Laurie Gunn at laurieegunn@ns.sympatico.ca or Sandra Barry at slbarry@ns.sympatico.ca


Category – Grades 4-6
First place:
Dakota Warren
Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia

Second place:
Maria Duynsiveld
Wallace, Nova Scotia

Third place:
Lauren Kruisselbrink
Kentville, Nova Scotia

Honorable mention:
Ryan Spencer
Great Village, Nova Scotia

Category – Grades 7-9
First place:
Elizabeth Schofield
Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia

Honorable mention:
Ryan Atkinson
Centre Burlington, Nova Scotia

Category – Grades 10-12
First place:
Aaron Holland
Bridgetown, Nova Scotia

Second place:
Tiffany Vincent
Cornerbrook, Newfoundland

Third place:
Morgan Illsley
Bridgetown, Nova Scotia

Honorable mention:
Chris Creene
Bridgetown, Nova Scotia

Category – Post-secondary
Honorable mention:
Sarah Giragosian
Albany, New York

Category – Adult
First place:
Moya Pacey
Garran, Australia

Second place:
Mary Jo Anderson
Banff, Alberta

Third place:
Anne Pollett
Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia

Honorable mention:
Mary Verna Feehan
Providence, Rhode Island

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rose-Coloured Glasses

Offered the choice I ask for you to choose:
you boggle (“Is my tessitura showing?”),
then proffer me the shorter of the two.
An awkward kiss. I never can remember
which cheek one ought to turn or just how many
times one's lips slip – right to left to right?

I lift it to the light. Striations, bubbles,
some stippled streaks of dots and dashes... scratches
left behind by vehement Old-Fashioneds?
Manhattans left behind on fascist liners
the cheapest way to Europe in the thirties?
A Brocken bow’s adiabatic site?

Where have I seen them? Yes, I know! – the panes
of wavy glass her lace-hung parlour window
opens to the CAUTION sign outside
the house she grew up in, across from where
the Esso station stood once, oily, homely, –
it’s Wilsons Gas Stops now, of course, at night

as noisy as the spot it’s filled was filthy.
The Harleys belch their little mushroom clouds
as kids race up and squeal their tires and giggle
in G# voices, chains and leather jackets.

One young man dismounts, his fresh-lit Marl-
boro cigarette (imported) drips pink light

on handlebars through still-cupped palm and fingers.

The rain commences, making water music
out of sync with kettle hiss and whistle
drawing me from the window to the kitchen.
I take the almanac from where it hangs
fastened by a steam-damp length of white –

– No. That isn’t string. It’s more like twine.
One end is frazzled where a scrap of paper
dangles still: a smudge of inch-worm green
almost occludes the couple words remaining.
“Rented... . Or maybe “Scented... bank”?
But bank of what? Of roses? No. Too trite –

Anyhow, her house (the first of three)
is yet to come. I’m heading there next week
to decompress and maybe to compose
some sort of thank-you note to you, dear Suzie,
not just for bringing me the armadillo
carved from soapstone, or the nifty slight-

ly scratched - but reeking all the more of meaning! -
drinking glass you got in Ouro Preto –
No. Most of all for you. Your глаз. Your глас.
– The Russian ‘glaçes’ can mean both ‘eye’ and ‘voice’. –
Two glasses. One for S. One - MCB.
Three merging ‘looks’. Three plovers taking flight.

6-8-10 February, 11 June 2011


Monday, June 20, 2011

News from Halifax

Elizabeth Bishop's photograph graced the front page of the Sunday, June 19, 2011 edition of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, which included a substantial illustrated article about Bishop's connection with Great Village by Lois Legge. The web edition of the newspaper reproduces the article, and also includes three video presentations. These may be found at the following URL:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our New York Correspondent Writes --

Elizabeth Bishop: A Discussion of Her Life and Legacy

Event Type: Poetry Reading
Event Date and Time: July 14, 2011
Madison Square Park
At the foot of the Farragut Monument; 25th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues
New York, NY

For further information contact:

Leslie Shipman

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Literary Litter of the Littoral-Minded: Elizabeth Bishop's Ideas of Disorder at Key West

[Over the next few weeks we will be posting links to video and audio recordings of some of the presentations given at the recent Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Conference at the University of King's College, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our first speaker is Zachariah Wells of the University of New Brunswick. -- JB]

Zachariah Wells
[photo: John W. MacDonald]

The Literary Litter of the Littoral-Minded:
Elizabeth Bishop's Ideas of Disorder at Key West

Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Bight" is a work of almost pure description. Embedded in, and protruding through, the sheer surface of Bishop's poem, however, are a number of literary allusions. Those allusions orient the poem and its author in relation to a number of important precursors, including Baudelaire, Hopkins, Herbert, Wordsworth, Whitman, Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens. In each case, Bishop encodes a fraught exchange, establishing affinities and asserting independence. The explicit subject of "The Bight" is the harbour of Key West, but my reading of the poem demonstrates that it is also concerned with "place" as status, as Bishop negotiates her relationship with the literary canon to which she now unequivocally belongs.

This paper is a condensed excerpt taken from a long essay on "The Bight." Another excerpt will be published soon by The Worcester Review.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia


18 June 2011, 1:30 p.m.

Great Village Legion, Great Village, N.S.


In this year of celebration of Elizabeth Bishop’s 100th birthday, the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia is marking its 17th year of existence. Since 1994, the EBSNS has been commited to raising awareness of Elizabeth Bishop’s life and work and of her strong connection to Nova Scotia. The EBSNS is centrally involved in many activities and events to mark Bishop’s centenary, so this year’s AGM will be part birthday party and part celebration update.

After a brief business meeting (to which all are welcome), members of the EBSNS and the public are invited to stay and hear all the exciting news and learn more about the wonderful events yet to come:

Official announcement of winners of “In the Village”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition.


Unveiling of brochure for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival,

taking place in Great Village on 19-21 August 2011.


Sandra Barry, author of Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia’s “Home-Made Poet” will be present to sign copies of her book.


Talk with some of the artists involved in upcoming EB100 events.


EB100: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary celebration in Nova Scotia will be a series of events and activities (concerts, lectures, exhibits, readings, kitchen parties, tours, publications, etc.) Because Bishop was born on 8 February 1911 and died on 6 October 1979, events will occur throughout the province and across this time span, but four points during the year — winter, spring, summer and fall — will bring a particular concentration of activity.

In addition to the events in Great Village and Halifax, many artists — writers, musicians, painters, film-makers, photographers, actors, dancers, artisans, etc. — arts groups and universities in Nova Scotia will create events to mark the centenary.

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia is Canada’s only society devoted to celebrating the life and art of the poet Elizabeth Bishop. Educating Nova Scotians and the world about her deep and abiding connections to the province is its purpose.

Who to contact?

John Barnstead, President, EBSNS, EB100 committeeEmail: bishopcentenary@gmail.com

Sandra Barry, Secretary, EBSNS, EB100 committeeEmail: slbarry@ns.sympatico.ca

Joy Laking, EBSNS, EB Centenary Arts Festival committee: laking.joy@gmail.com

Where to find out additional information?

Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia:http://www.elizabethbishopns.org

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog: http://elizabethbishopcentenary.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Events website:http://elizabethbishopcelebration.ca

TODAY'S EVENTS -- "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop"

SUNDAY, 12 JUNE 2011

Coffee – 2nd floor A&A Building

9:00—10:30 a.m. Sessions

Geography V
Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Jonathan Ellis

• Sandra Barry, “Shipwrecks and Housewrecks: Elizabeth Bishop’s Sable Island Journal”
• Silvia Maria Guerra Anastásio, Federal University of Bahai, “A Haven for Elizabeth Bishop.”
• Corey Clawson, Utah State University, “Poetic Flyways: Birds as Poets and Travelers in thePoetry and Correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and May Swenson”

Ekphrasis, Rhetoric and Autobiograpy
Location: Board Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Deborah Kennedy

• Joshua Steffey, Marquette University, WI, “Elizabeth Bishop Looking: Portraits of the Artist as a Blind Woman”
• Cynthia Messenger, University of Toronto, “The Rhetoric of an American Voice in Bishop’s Letters and Verse”
• Andre Furlani, Concordia University, “‘irrepairable (rhyme)’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Homesickness”

10:30—11:00 a.m. Coffee Break – 2nd floor A&A Building

11:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m.

Finale: Round Table
Location: Alumni Hall
Chair: Alexander MacLeod
Participants: Eleanor Cook, Suzie LeBlanc, Colm Tóibín, Thomas Travisano


2:00-3:30 p.m., boarding at 1:45 p.m.

Halifax Harbour Cruise (http:www.mtcw.ca/FleetMarII.php), together with participants
from the “a past that never has been present”: International Art – Philosophy –
History Conference (www.originary past.ca) aboard the Mar II Departure from Queen’s
Wharf (behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street). Free of
charge (with cash bar on board)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

TODAY'S EVENTS -- "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop"


8:00—9:00 a.m. Registration/Coffee – 2nd floor Arts & Admin. Building Kings University.

9:00—10:30 a.m. Session

Space, Orientation and Disorientation
Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Louise Burley

• David Jarraway, University of Ottawa, “‘The Play Between the Spaces’: Elizabeth Bishop, Frank Gehry, and The Problematic of ‘Home’”
• Paola Nardi, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, “Creolized spaces in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop”
• Ross Leckie, University of New Brunswick, “Disorientation, Blank Spots, and Vertigo in the Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop”

Money and Science
Location: Board Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Cynthia Messenger

• Eric Lindstrom, University of Vermont, “Money, Painting, and ‘Poem’: Elizabeth Bishop’s World Picture”
• Leslie Wooten, Arizona State University, “Elizabeth Bishop: Revisioning Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection”
• Kristen Reed, University College – Virginia Commonwealth University, “Symmetry and
Self: Martin Gardner, Elizabeth Bishop, and ‘The Gentleman of Shalott’”

10:45 a.m. – Loading of bus

11:00 a.m. – Depart for Great Village

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Great Village

12:30—2:30 p.m. Box lunch pick up – St. James United Church – Touring Great Village and the Elizabeth Bishop House – Tour Guides: Sandra Barry, Jonathan Ellis

2:30—4:00 p.m. Session

Sanctuary, St. James United Church
Chair: Sandra Barry

Literally In the Village
• Brian Bartlett reading “In Bishop’s Village”
• Tomas Travisano, Hartwick College, “Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of Three Nations?”
• Michiru Oguchi, Japan, “The ‘Pitch’ of the Village”
• Susie DeCoste, University of Waterloo, “‘How Late to Have Begun Your Travels!: Maritime Regional Identity in Bishop’s ‘Memories of Uncle Neddy’”

4:15 p.m. – Depart from Great Village

5:45 p.m. – Arrive in Halifax

6:00—7:30 p.m. – Free time

7:30—9:00 p.m.

Marie Claire Blais on Elizabeth Bishop – Alumni Hall

9:00 p.m. – Post talk reception – King’s University Library

Friday, June 10, 2011

TODAY'S EVENTS -- "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop"

FRIDAY, 10 JUNE 2011

8:00—9:00 a.m. Registration/Coffee – 2nd floor Arts & Administration Building, Kings University.

9:00—10:30 a.m. Sessions

Key West

Location: Board Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Ross Leckie

• Zachariah Wells, University of New Brunswick, “The Literary Litter of the Littoral-Minded: Elizabeth Bishop’s Ideas of Disorder at Key West”
• Adele Barclay, McGill University, “Subjective Geographies: Questions of Epistemology, Poetry, and Place in Elizabeth Bishop’s Poetry and Letters”
• Marvin Campbell, University of Virginia, “‘Doing More with Key West’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Hemispheric Turn”


Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: John Barnstead

• Orlando Jose Hernandez, Hostos Community College-CUNY, “Elizabeth Bishop and Translation: A Geography of Cultural Exchanges”
• Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese, University of Copenhagan, “How Clouds Change Shape in Eighteen Words: ‘Sestina’ and its Two Polish Translations”
• Shao-Pin Luo, Dalhousie University, “The ‘One Art’ of Translation: A Comparative Analysis of Chinese Translations of Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’”

10:30—11:00 a.m. Coffee Break – President’s Lodge

11:00a.m.—12:30 p.m. Sessions

Geography IV

Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Susie DeCoste

• Linda Anderson, Newcastle University, UK, “Dubious Topography: Space and Time in Bishop’s ‘The End of March’”
• J.R. Carpenter, University College Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, “Writing Coastlines: Estuaries, Islands and Beaches in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop”
• Kelly C. MacPhail, Université de Montreal, “Geography of the Poem: Elizabeth Bishop’s Form and the Production of Meaning”

Bishop and Others (Herbert, Hopkins, Moore, Auden, Heaney)

Location: Board Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Brian Bartlett

• Jonathan Ellis, University of Sheffield, UK, “Bishop’s England”
• Vidyan Ravinthiran, Balliol College, Oxford, UK, “Auden and Bishop: Another Look at ‘At the Fishhouses’”
• Connor O’Callaghan, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, “Hyphens by Hopkins: The Compounding Influence of Hopkins on Bishop, of Bishop on Heaney”

12:30—1:30 p.m. LUNCH – Prince Hall

1:30—2:30 p.m. Session

Reminiscences of Elizabeth Bishop

Location: Alumni Hall
Alexander MacLeod in conversation with David Staines about Elizabeth Bishop.

2:30—3:00 p.m. Coffee Break – 2nd floor Arts and Admin. Building (outside Board Room)

3:00—4:30 p.m. Sessions

On “Crusoe in England”

Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Peter O’Brien

• Sue Goyette reading: “On Hearing Elizabeth Bishop Read Her ‘Crusoe in England’”
• David Wheatley, University of Hull, UK, “‘Now I live here, another island’: Elizabeth Bishop, ‘Crusoe in England’, and the Importance of Elsewhere”
• Sara Meyer, Gordon College of Education, Haifa, Israel, “The ‘Un-Rediscovered, Un-Renamable’ Island—Exile, Placenessess, and the Poetics of Autobiography in Bishop’s ‘Crusoe in England’”

Miniature and Maternal

Location: Haliburton Room (A&A Building)
Chair: Len Diepeveen

• Anne Shifrer, Utah State University, “Home Bodies: The Somatic in Elizabeth Bishop’s May Swenson’s Recollections of Home”
• Anne Koval, Mount Allison University, “The Miniature World of Elizabeth Bishop”

5:30—7:30 p.m. – Official Reception – President’s Lodge (food and wine)

7:30—9:30 p.m.

Colm Tóibín on Elizabeth Bishop.
Location: Alumni Hall

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Updated URL for "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop"

Here is a link to further information about the two keynote addresses to be delivered at the upcoming EB100 conference at the University of King's College, June 10 through June 12:


Bishop scholars from all over the world will be gathering this weekend to ponder her work in Nova Scotia, her childhood home. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop

If the amazing Elizabeth Bishop tribute concerts happening now during Scotia Festival of Music are not enough Bishop celebration for Nova Scotians, we are about to host a group of Bishop scholars and devoted readers from around the world for "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place In the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop," a symposium taking place from 9-12 June, 2011, at University of King's College in Halifax. Find out more information about the symposium here.

The symposium starts on Thursday evening with a Scotia Festival concert featuring the world premiere of a setting of Bishop's poem "Brazil, January 1st, 1502" by composer and musician Dinuk Wijeratne. There are three days of amazing presentations, conversations, round tables, and two keynote addresses by Irish writer Colm Toibin and Quebec writer Marie Claire Blais.

We are even exporting the whole event to Great Village -- a session will take place in St. James Church in Great Village, N.S., on Saturday, 11 June 2011, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

At this mid-way point in the celebrations of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary, Halifax is the place to be!