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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

... and so today's "Today in Bishop" is the last one of the centenary year and, for the time being, the last one. My thanks first of all to my co-hosts, Sandra Barry and Suzie LeBlanc, who have headed the effort of so many, many people throughout Nova Scotia to make EB100 such an enormous success, and then to you, our faithful readers, for all your interest, encouragement, and support.

Finally, I am grateful for Elizabeth Bishop and for her work, which has given me so much to ponder for so many years. Here, in parting, is EB's translation of a poem by Octavio Paz. -- JB

January 1

The year's doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.

I opened my eyes late.
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for time's uncertain return
through cracks in the horizon.

But no, the year had returned.
It filled all the room
and my look almost touched it.
Time, with no help from us,
had placed
in exactly the same order as yesterday
houses in the empty street,
snow on the houses,
silence on the snow.

You were beside me,
still asleep.
The day had invented you
but you hadn't yet accepted
being invented by the day.
--Nor possibly my being invented, either.
You were in another day.
You were beside me
and I saw you, like the snow,
asleep among appearances.
Time, with no help from us,
invents houses, streets, trees
and sleeping women.

When you open your eyes
we'll walk, once more,
among the hours and their inventions.
We'll walk among appearances
and bear witness to time and its conjugations.
Perhaps we'll open the day's doors.
And then we shall enter the unknown.

Cambridge, Mass.,
1 January 1975

A Christmas Present from Japan

Christmas Eve brought me in the post a beautiful gift from Elizabeth Bishop's devoted translator into Japanese, Michiru Oguchi: an album of photographs she made during her visit to Nova Scotia for the University of King's College conference "It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of Elizabeth Bishop." I'd like to share it now with you.

[To enlarge the pictures, first click on the image; when the slideshow version appears right click on that image and select "view image"; then click on the resulting image to obtain the enlargement. -- JB]

Friday, December 30, 2011

EB100 comes to a close

As 2011 winds down, it “behooves” us (as Elizabeth Bishop might say) to acknowledge the wonder and delight of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary celebrations held not only in Great Village, Halifax and many other Nova Scotia communities; but also in Worcester, Boston, New York City, Ouro PrĂȘto, and many other far flung places. The tributes to Elizabeth Bishop have spanned art forms and have involved an astonishingly wide range of artists from many disciplines. One of the things this comprehensiveness shows is Elizabeth Bishop’s significance. The degree of lively, imaginative creativity bespeaks an influence which proves Bishop’s life and art are generative forces. Do we not believe that when her bicentenary rolls around, people will still be reading “In the Village” or “The Moose”? Surely, it is not saying too much to suppose it will be the case. Not only have many artists paid tribute to Elizabeth Bishop, the many events that have taken place drew good audiences throughout the year. In Nova Scotia, the extensive media coverage EB100 received has, we feel, brought her name to many more people than had previously been aware of her, and introduced many to her art for the first time.

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary exhibit, Truro Library, Truro, N.S.
Photo courtesy of Linda Shears

Though we have not yet decided just how we are going to proceed with this blog, it will stay active. We have so much backlog of material (video, text, photographs, etc.) to post – but with life being as busy as it is, this work will take time. We hope you will continue to visit the blog as 2012 rolls along, as the years to come will bring more EB activities to announce and feature.

Starry Night in Great Village by Joy Laking

The main reason for this little note is to extend heartfelt thanks to John Barnstead, without whom this blog would not have existed and been as lively and important as it is. John is the heart of this effort – his “Today in Bishop” and “Today’s Video” have been an extremely popular part of the blog. The amount of work it has taken for him to sustain these delightful elements cannot really be described. The EB100 YouTube Channel is also an important feature of this site. I, for one, am immensely grateful to John for his devotion to the blog – because of his dedication and effort, this site is now a must see for anyone interested in Elizabeth Bishop. Thank you, John.

As I mentioned, we will be shifting things a bit as 2012 rolls along, but we will continue to post information and material, which we trust will be both relevant and pleasant. Stay tuned. Happy New Year.

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival banner in front of St. James United Church, Great Village, Nova Scotia.
Photo by Laurie Gunn

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our New York Correspondent Writes --

“Elizabeth Bishop: Objects and Apparitions” is on view at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 724 Fifth Avenue, from December 8 through January 21. The exhibition will be celebrated with a reading by poets Mark Strand, Tina Chang, Hallie Hobson, and Susan Wheeler at the gallery on December 13 at 6:00 p.m.; for further information visit tibordenagy.com.

"Sandpiper" -- Pink Dog Productions