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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Radical Readings in Great Village at the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival, 19-21 August 2011

On August 20 and 21 a half-dozen award-winning and beloved Atlantic authors will read from their latest work, and in a rare departure from tradition they will interview each other instead of being questioned by a neutral host. There could be fireworks! Olga Milosevich of CBC Radio One will be on hand to moderate, and there is no fee for excellent seats in St. James United Church, Great Village, at 1:30 p.m. each afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, 20 August, the readers are Anne Simpson, Don McKay and Michael Crummey; Sunday’s roster, 21 August, includes Sheree Fitch, Joan Clark and Sandra Barry.

Crummey, Clark, Fitch, McKay and Simpson will also offer writing workshops from nine to noon Saturday morning for budding authors of fiction, poetry and children’s books. At a cost of twenty dollars, this is another rare opportunity and the classes are filling up already; for information, interested writers-in-training should swiftly email ebfestival2011@gmail.com listing their top two choices.

Books are only one part of this three-day Elizabeth Bishop Arts Festival, which includes three special concerts (see the links at the top of the page for information about the concerts), feasts and historic tours. On Friday, August 19, there are events for children, a book launch (Mary Rose Donnelly’s new novel, Great Village, published by Cormorant Books) and presentation of the winning stories from a writing competition on the theme of home.

The winner in the open category will be a long way from home: award-winning poet Moya Pacey is coming from Canberra, Australia, to read her story and receive her prize. Moya says, “I have always been drawn to Elizabeth Bishop’s writing—her poetry and prose. Like me, she was a traveller and lived in a different country from her birth place for a long time but the memories of her childhood place stayed with her always—strong and potent. I am very excited about the award and feel honoured that my short memoir piece was chosen. The piece is very close to my heart. When I wrote it, I found I had such a strong recall of the close and closed community of my birth place that I was able to replay the memory of the night fifty years ago that my youngest brother was born. The memory came straight from what Elizabeth Bishop called the ‘memory machine’.”

That memory machine will be in high gear as the people of Great Village welcome folks from near and far to visit Bishop’s childhood home on the occasion of her hundredth birthday.

Check out the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia website for more details.

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