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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Call for proposals: American Literature Association conference (2013) panel on Elizabeth Bishop

Below is a call for proposals for a proposed panel at the 2013 American Literature Association conference to be held in May 2013 in Boston -- a fascinating preliminary discussion around the exciting anthology project that is being created by Anne Shifrer, Brian Bartlett and Corey Clawson. We'll keep you posted on the progress of this project.

“Elizabeth Bishop as Muse: Inspiration and Emulation”

In conjunction with an anthology project which collects published poems about, addressed to, or strongly influenced by Elizabeth Bishop, the project editors are proposing a session at ALA in which participants discuss one or two such poems. We are hoping to create a panel or roundtable which includes both critics and poets (even poets who have authored such a poem). In a ten-minute presentation (approx. four pages), participants will consider what the poem(s) of their choice uniquely reveals about E.B.'s life and character or the nature, craft, and value of her art. Those interested may find our provisional list of anthology poems (by her British and American peers as well as generations of poets from Ireland's Seamus Heaney to Brazil's Anna Cristina Cesar) at the following address:

We also welcome poems we haven’t yet discovered, so long as these provide valuable insights into what it is about E.B.’s poetry that so inspires admiration and emulation. 

Please send proposals (about 250 words or even a paper draft) to the editors: Corey Clawson (cdc115@eden.rutgers.edu), Brian Bartlett (bbartlett@hfx.eastlink.ca), Anne Shifrer (Anne.Shifrer@usu.edu). We seek compressed and polished short essays. After the presentations (5-6 people), the panelists will have an open discussion. PROPOSAL DEADLINE: January 15, 2013.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another glimpse of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording Fund-raiser in Toronto

Here are a couple photos just received from Suzie LeBlanc, taken at the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording fund-raising event at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto on 30 November 2012. It gives another opportunity to thank all those who worked so hard to organize this event and a heartfelt thanks to all who attended and supported this project. You can find our more about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording at www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca.

From left to right: Suzie LeBlanc, composer Christos Hatzis and emcee for the evening, CBC Radio host Tom Allan.
Our Suzie LeBlanc -- you can just see composer, musician and conductor Dinuk Wijeratne on the left sitting at the piano (they wowed the audience with their performance).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Glimpse of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording fund-raiser in Toronto

I recently received a couple of photographs taken by Desmond Brunelle, who, with the painter Alfred Villenueve, attended the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording fund-raiser in Toronto on 30 November at the Canadian Music Centre. We weren’t sure that Alfred would be able to attend, but in the end he was there with his beautiful painting, which he had donated for a silent auction. His painting was sold and we are deeply grateful to Alfred for the funds that it raised for this project. It is lovely to have a glimpse of this lively and successful event. 

Alfred Villeneuve and Suzie LeBlanc, Canadian Music Centre, 30 November 2012

Mary Ellen Sullivan and Alfred Villeneuve, Canadian Music Centre, 30 November 2012 (the painting Alfred donated is on the wall on the left)
To find out more about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording and how to contribute, we are still accepting donations, go to: www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording Fund-raiser in Toronto a Success – plus an update about two other Bishop projects

The performance space at the Canadian Music Centre was full and buzzing early Friday evening, 30 November, as people gathered for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording fund-raiser, organized by Suzie LeBlanc, with the help of Debra Chandler. Suzie was joined by very special guests: Tom Allan, popular CBC Radio host, who acted as emcee; Dinuk Wijeratne, a composer, musician and conductor, who conducted the recording sessions and performed for the assembled; Christos Hatzis, the composer of four of the Bishop poem settings, who spoke about his involvement with this project; Eleanor Wachtel, renowned CBC Radio broadcaster and Bishop fan, who read Bishop’s poems; and Alfred Villeneuve, Ontario painter, who had donated one of his works for the event (see a post below for more about his contribution). Suzie reports, “The event was wonderful” and “people seemed to have a lovely time.” We will be posting more information about this successful event this coming week.
For now, I want to alert you to two interesting EB developments. First, composer John Plant, whose settings of “Sandpiper” and “Sunday 4 A.M.” are featured on the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy CD, informs that his “Sandpiper” will be performed  at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre in Toronto by the Talisker Players in a concert called “On the Wing,” on 7 and 8 May 2012. For more details see: http://www.taliskerplayers.ca/onTheWing.html

Film-maker John Scott also informs that his short “First Death in Nova Scotia,” based on Bishop’s poem, has been receiving good reviews and a lot of attention. Check out the website for his production company, Magpie Productions, to find out the exciting details: http://www.magpieproductions.com/ John will be shooting another short based on Bishop’s poem “In the Waiting Room,” in Nova Scotia in January 2013.


Again, stay tuned for an update about the Toronto fund-raiser for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy recording.

We still need your help with this project.
You can find out how to donate at:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording – Exciting Updates

Check out this exciting article about Suzie LeBlanc and the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording project which appeared today on the wesbite Musical Toronto. The article is written by John Terauds. It highlights the fund-raising concert taking place in Toronto on Friday.

There is even more to update!:
We are excited to say that the final recording session for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording occurred yesterday and today (27-28 November). The first two sessions took place at St. David’s Church in Halifax, N.S., but a technical issue (the timpani could not fit through the door at St. David’s!) moved the final recording to Chezzetcook, N.S., an Acadian settlement east of Halifax. It took place in historic St. Anselms church.

Just to remind you, the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording is comprised of settings of Bishop’s poems by Canadian composers Emily Doolittle, Christos Hatzis, Alasdair MacLean and John Plant. Along with Suzie LeBlanc, there is a stellar cast of musicians involved: composer/musician/conductor Dinuk Wijeratne, the Blue Engine String Quartet, and other musicians from Symphony Nova Scotia. The producer/technicians John S.D. Adams and Rod Snedden have guided these sessions from the beginning.

This final recording session marks a major milestone in the project. An amazing team – a community, really – has come together to move the process along to this stage. There is still a lot of work to do before this amazing music can be shared with the world. The winter will be focused on editing, mixing, all that post-production work. All this means that there is also still a need for us to raise funds.

Suzie LeBlanc and some very special guests will give a presentation about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording at a fund-raiser for the project in Toronto on Friday – this coming Friday, 30 November!! The event will take place at the Canadian Music Centre (Chalmers House), at 20 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, from 5:30 to 7:00. If you are in Toronto and able to attend, Suzie would be thrilled to see you. [See the posts below for more information about this event.]

If you are not able to attend and would like to contribute to help make the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording a reality, you can find out more information at:

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and Suzie LeBlanc want to thank all those who have contributed so far. We want to thank the amazing composers, musicians and technicians who have put so much creativity and energy into this recording. We can’t wait to share this glorious music with you all.

Monday, November 26, 2012

EB Legacy Recording Fund-raiser: Auctioning a painting by artist Alfred Villeneuve

On Friday, 30 November 2012, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Canadian Music Centre (Chalmers House) (http://www.musiccentre.ca/home.cfm), Suzie LeBlanc and friends are holding a fund-raiser for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording.
We are excited to announce that part of that fund-raiser will include a silent auction on a painting done by Ontario artist Alfred Villeneuve. You can learn more about Alfred at his website:

Alfred has kindly donated a beautiful painting, “Pic Island Revisited.” Alfred writes of this painting, “It was inspired while walking the beach along Pic Bay. We has stopped the night before to camp. The next morning I got up early and went out to explore the bay area. I scanned the horizon, the small group of land masses, and up to the mountains to the northwest. I watched a train, high up along the skirt of the mountain, making its way around. Suddenly, I was struck by the realization that it was probably along that same ridge that Lauren Harris and others had painted from when he created ‘Above Lake Superior’ and ‘Pic Island.’ That morning, I felt the vapors of history about. I sat and absorbed as much of that beautiful early morn before going back to the bustle of four adults and the daily routines of life….It is a work that is dear to me, and so much the better that I pass it on.” Alfred has kindly provided a image of this painting....

This painting is 12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas.
It retails for $1,100.00
There is a minimum reserve bid of $400.00

We regret that Alfred is not able to attend the fund-raiser in person, but something essential about his vision of the world will be there to represent him. We are profoundly grateful to Alfred for his support of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording.

Ed. Note: On a personal note, I had the great privilege of seeing several of Alfred’s painting “in the flesh,” so to speak, at the home of a good friend of mine in Halifax, N.S. She has one of them, a large canvas, hung on her living room wall and when I entered this room for the first time and saw the painting, I stopped in my tracks in amazement. Alfred’s paintings are wondrously dynamic, richly textured, vibrantly expressive. One of his heroes is Emily Carr, a painter whose work I deeply admire; and I can say that seeing Alfred’s work gave me the same “hair standing on the back of the neck” feeling that a Carr painting gives me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording Fund-raiser – Exciting venue for this event

As we have already noted below, Suzie LeBlanc will be hosting a fund-raising event for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording in Toronto on 30 November 2012. One of the many exciting things about this event is its location. It is being held at the Canadian Music Centre’s (http://www.musiccentre.ca/home.cfm) new performance and community space in Chalmers House at 20 St. Joseph Street. This space opened recently and is receiving lots of attention and praise. If you haven’t had a chance to see this new venue, which supports Canadian music (and composers, musicians, singers, etc.), this is an opportunity to do so, and to support the CD project, which will bring incredible new Canadian music inspired by and based on Elizabeth Bishop poems to the world.

 The performance space at the Chalmers House, the Canadian Music Centre's new facility

You can find out more information about the EB Legacy Recording, and can donate online at, www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca. We are grateful for all the support we have received.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording fund-raiser in Toronto!

Suzie LeBlanc has been working hard to organize a fund-raising event in support of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording. It will take place in Toronto on 30 November, 2012. The details of this exciting event are below. Everyone is welcome.

 Suzie LeBlanc on a pilgrimage.


You are invited to an intimate preview hosted by soprano Suzie LeBlanc in support of a unique project that blends voice, poetry and the work of four of Canada’s finest composers. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop loved music, collaborations and new adventures. In that spirit, Suzie has commissioned composers Christos Hatzis, Alasdair MacLean, John Plant and Emily Doolittle to bring the essence of her poetry to a thrilling new recording project. Joined by conductor Dinuk Wijeratne and an ensemble of exceptional musicians, Suzie is creating a tribute to honour and explore the life of a great Canadian-American artist.

Please join Suzie LeBlanc and friends on Friday, November 30, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the new performance space in the Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph Street, Toronto


Elizabeth Bishop, 1945. Joseph Breitenbach photo

Elizabeth Bishop – “I am in need of music”
During the 2011 Elizabeth Bishop Centenary celebration in Nova Scotia, a dozen new works were commissioned and performed to rave reviews. With interest in Elizabeth Bishop spanning the globe, the intention has been to create a recording of this music and make it available to the world. Since July 2012, Suzie LeBlanc, Honorary Patron of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, has partnered with the Society in a fund-raising campaign to support this independent project with a goal of $60,000.

 Suzie sitting in Elizabeth Bishop's House in Great Village, Nova Scotia


Stay tuned for an update about the fund-raising concert for the EB legacy recording that was organized by Australian composer Dindy Vaughan. The event took place on 28 October in Australia and was a wonderful afternoon of music and conversation, which raised a lot of money. An account of this event will be posted soon!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kathleen Spivack’s new memoir about Robert Lowell

With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, & Others by Kathleen Spivack
In 1959 Kathleen Spivack won a fellowship to study at Boston University with Robert Lowell. Her fellow students were Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, among others. Thus began a relationship with the famous poet and his circle that would last to the end of his life in 1977 and beyond. Spivack presents a lovingly rendered story of her time among some of the most esteemed artists of a generation. Part memoir, part loose collection of anecdotes, artistic considerations, and soulful yet clear-eyed reminiscences of a lost time and place, hers is an intimate portrait of the often suffering Lowell, the great and near great artists he attracted, his teaching methods, his private world, and the significant legacy he left to his students. Through the story of a youthful artist finding her poetic voice among literary giants, Spivack thoughtfully considers how poets work. She looks at friendships, addiction, despair, perseverance and survival, and how social changes altered lives and circumstances. This is a beautifully written portrait of friends who loved and lived words, and made great beauty together.

A touching and deeply revealing look into the lives and thoughts of some of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, With Robert Lowell and His Circle will appeal to writers, students, and thoughtful literary readers, as well as to scholars.

Sunday, December 2, 2012, 4-6 p.m.
Co-hosted by the Harvard Bookstore and the Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Refreshment, books, and celebration at both locations
The Harvard Bookstore: 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA, 617-661-1515
The Grolier Poetry Bookshop: 6 Plympton St, Cambridge, MA, 617-547-4648

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia – New Honorary Patron

On 16 June 2012, at its AGM, the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia appointed Wallace “Bud” Bowers as Honorary Patron of the society. Bud was one of Elizabeth Bishop’s maternal first cousins. His appointment came about because of the death of his sister Phyllis Sutherland in October 2011. Phyllis had been the Honorary Patron of the society since its formation in 1994. Bud was also the addressee of Bishop’s poem “For CWB,” written the year of his birth in 1929:
“Let us live where the twilight lives after the dark,
In the deep, drowsy blue, let us make us a home.
Let us meet in the cool evening grass, with a stork
And a whistle of willow, played by a gnome.”

Sadly, Bud Bowers died on 23 July 2012. The EBSNS Board extends deepest sympathy to Bud’s family. He was a wonderful human being with a ready wit, a keen interest in his family’s history and many lively stories to tell. His and Phyllis’s interest in and support of the EBSNS are profoundly appreciated and will be greatly missed.

At the 27 October 2012 EBSNS Board meeting, the members of the board unanimously voted to appoint soprano Suzie LeBlanc as our next Honorary Patron. Suzie’s involvement in the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary is well-known. She has been speaking enthusiastically about Bishop since being hooked four years ago, after a chance visit to Great Village one summer day. In her capacity as co-artistic director of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival, she has been directly supporting the EBSNS for several years. The board unanimously agreed that Suzie is arguably the best Elizabeth Bishop ambassador Nova Scotia has ever had. Suzie kindly accepted this appointment, which happened to come on her birthday. Happy Birthday, Suzie!

We will be posting more updates about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, as well as other EB100 legacy projects, in the coming weeks. Do stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop film “First Death in Nova Scotia” Update

Film-maker John Scott reports that his short film based on Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “First Death in Nova Scotia” continues to receive attention and screenings around the world. After a successful screening at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, N.S., in September 2012, John writes that “First Death” played at the Co-Kisser Film Festival (http://www.co-kisser.com/) in Minnesota. It has also screened at Visible Verse Film Festival (http://www.cinematheque.bc.ca/visible-verse-festival-2012) in Vancouver. It will screen in the ZEBRA Film Festival (http://www.zebra-award.org/) in Berlin and will then tour in Lithuania in Tarpfest, as part of the touring section of the ZEBRA festival. John expects the film will be published in an online literary magazine in January 2013. We’ll certainly let you know when that happens. His three short Bishop films (“First Death in Nova Scotia,” “Sandpiper,” and “One Art”) will play in a film series at the Minnesota Public Library in the spring of 2013. Congratulations to John on his the success with these shorts, which are all in advance of a full-length documentary about Bishop on which he is working. John will also begin to shoot an adaptation of Bishop’s poem “In the Waiting Room” in Nova Scotia in January 2013. Stay tuned!

Check out Magpie Productions: http://www.magpieproductions.com/

Check out the “First Death in Nova Scotia” Facebook page:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

33 Years Today

"—the little that we get for free,
the little of our earthly trust. Not much.
About the size of our abidance
along with theirs: the munching cows,
the iris, crisp and shivering, the water
still standing from spring freshets,
the yet-to-be-dismantled elms, the geese."
—Elizabeth Bishop, “Poem”

"Each day with so much ceremony
begins, with birds, with bells,
with whistles from the factories…."
—Elizabeth Bishop, “Anaphora”

Today marks 33 years since Elizabeth Bishop’s death. With so many creative projects happening around the world inspired by and in tribute to Elizabeth Bishop, her legacy is alive and well.

One of the most exciting of these projects is the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording being done in Nova Scotia by Suzie LeBlanc (www.suzieleblanc.com) and her fantastic team of composers and musicians. Music was an abiding love for Bishop, all kinds of music, and to honour her with a CD of glorious settings of her poems (including “Anaphora”), is appropriate indeed. All of the music being recorded was premiered in 2011 during the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival in Nova Scotia.

A crowd-source fund-raising campaign is underway to raise money for this independent project. You can find out more, learn about it progress and make a contribution at www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca. Contributions have come from all over the world and we are deeply grateful for this support.


I am thrilled to tell you about a special fund-raising event for the Nova Scotia Bishop CD, which will happen in Australia! Acclaimed Australian composer Dindy Vaughan will be holding a fund-raiser in Melbourne on Sunday, 28 October 2012. It will be a gathering of singers and musicians from Dindy’s wide circle, who will perform in support of this Bishop project.

Dindy Vaughan

Suzie LeBlanc and Blue Engine String Quartet performed one of Vaughan’s “Sea shells on Bruny” during the final EB100 gala concert on 3 October 2011.

In a recent email, explaining her reasons for offering this amazing support, Dindy wrote: “I am passionate to make things such as this [the CD] happen; women have to work extremely hard to be recognised. Many of the friends I have invited have worked with me for years on different aspects of the women’s movement, and we all care deeply that women’s achievements, such as Elizabeth Bishop’s, are not swept under the carpet. So, the prospect has fallen amongst a very committed gang of Australian friends.”

We are profoundly grateful to Dindy and her friends for this interest and support. It demonstrates the global reach of Elizabeth Bishop’s and Suzie LeBlanc’s art. It is thrilling to imagine these distant friends taking up the cause, raising funds through their own songs.

More about Dindy Vaughan:

“Dindy Vaughan is a composer, environmentalist, organiser, writer and educator. Her music is frequently performed live and has been broadcast on 3MBS FM and the ABC. Happiest in the thick of artistic, intellectual but above all practical, activity, she thrives in social groups where imagination and creativity combine with plenty of grass roots growth in a hurry.

In 1996 Dindy was awarded the prestigious University of Sydney Alumni Award for Achievement in Community Service. The award was given for her innovation, stimulation of new ideas and services, creativity, dedication and leadership in the areas of arts and education. She was nominated and selected for inclusion in Who’s Who in the World, Millennium 2000 edition, having demonstrated ‘outstanding achievements in (her own) fields of endeavour… thereby, contributed significantly to the betterment of contemporary society’.” This information has been taken from the following website:  http://www.move.com.au/artist/dindy-vaughan

Check out these websites for even more information about Dindy:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


One of the most delightful aspects of the celebrations of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary in Great Village in 2011 were the colourful banners that the EBSNS created, which were displayed not only in Great Village, but also along the shore, from Masstown to Five Islands. The banners contained the image of Joy Laking’s painting “Starry Night in Great Village.” The banners were effective in publicizing EB100 and were so admired that the EBSNS sold them as souvenirs and as a fund-raiser for the EB100 Writing Competition book (another EB100 legacy project we’ll tell you about as it develops). Since the locally-made wrought-iron brackets are still in place, the EBSNS Board thought that a visual art contest for young people in the area might be a way to create a permanent banner, one that could be displayed every year during the summer.

This idea has turned into “Images of My Village,” a visual art project for young people in Colchester County. The purpose of this project is to celebrate the creativity of the youth in the county; to encourage them to think imaginatively about what home, village, community means to them; to express their feelings and ideas in visual art.

Elizabeth Bishop loved visual art and was herself an amateur painter, who created delightful images of the places where she lived. In the spirit of her love for her childhood home, Great Village, N.S., this visual art project will ask young people to re-imagine their own connections to home and express how their identity is connected to time and place.

The call for submissions is open to all young people in Colchester County from Grade Primary to Grade Twelve. The EBSNS will curate a virtual exhibition of all the submissions, which will be launched in the spring of 2013. The EBSNS will especially encourage youth in the Great Village area to submit. The society will choose an image from submissions that it feels best represents the spirit of Great Village, and create a permanent banner to be displayed in the village each summer.

The guidelines for submission can be found on the EBSNS website: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/imagesofmyvillage.html

Monday, September 24, 2012


The annual Word on the Street Festival in Halifax, N.S., 23 September, 2012, was a busy day for the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. Thousands of people throng the waterfront, attending readings and talking with all the exhibitors. Suzie LeBlanc and Sandra Barry were the keepers of the flame that day, with help from several enthusiastic EBSNS members. We all had a great time chatting with old and new friends. We were delighted to see how many people (local and from away) knew something about Elizabeth Bishop and were eager to talk with us about her. We were able to promote the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy recording, one of our main aims, as well as the other EB100 legacy projects. We even raised a little money for the recording. The purpose of this kind of event is to spread the word, to publicize our activities, and hundreds of people went away from our festive table with a bright shiny red, blue, green or purple pencil with “Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?” and the EBSNS website address or this blog's address on them. Purple was the favourite colour!

A reminder about the wonderful perks available when you contribute
to the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording
(check them out on the EB Legacy Recording site)

Thank you to the volunteers who came by to help out, Janet Maybee, Brian Bartlett, Susan Kerslake and John Barnstead. A special thank you to writer Mary Ellen Sullivan and her husband Jim Stewart for help with the early morning set up. A heartfelt thank you to musician Joanne Hatfield who came by in the afternoon as our energies were flagging and treated us to some lovely Brazilian music!! There was a spontaneous jam session with Suzie and John Barnstead joining in, doing harmony. We had the loveliest-sounding exhibit in the whole place! We will be updating about the EB Legacy Recording in the near future (www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca).

 Left to Right: Sandra Barry, Suzie LeBlanc, John Barnstead, Joanne Hatfield,
at WOTS! Photo by Susan Kerslake

Monday, September 17, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop at Word on the Street in Halifax

On Sunday, 23 September 2012, the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia will be at Word on the Street (http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/halifax), a huge, fabulous, lively book fair on the waterfront in downtown Halifax – near the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. We are there to spread word about and accept contributions for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording. Suzie LeBlanc will be joining us!! We’ll also have information about the other EB100 legacy projects and about the EBSNS itself.
The EBSNS will be located in the Word on the Street Marketplace – table # 5 in “the village.”

Word on the Street (http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/halifax) goes from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

If you are  at WOTS, stop by and say Hello, meet Suzie and me, and learn more about the EB Legacy Recording project (http://www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca). See you there!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording – Check out the new perks!!

A bevy of exciting new perks has been added to the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording crowd-source fund-raising campaign. Check them out at: http://eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca/p/thank-you-gifts.html

Some of these new perks include:

A movie or a skate on the Halifax Commons with Suzie LeBlanc and friends.

A getaway to Windhorse Farm
 (http://www.windhorsefarm.org/) in New Germany, N.S.

A private film screening for an upcoming documentary about Suzie LeBlanc’s retracing of Elizabeth Bishop’s 1932 walking tour of Newfoundland, produced by film-maker Linda Rae Dornan.

A tea party at the Elizabeth Bishop House and a guided walking tour of Great Village with Sandra Barry.

An evening of conversation with our own webmaster and Russian scholar John Barnstead where you will feast on a home-made dinner with a Russian theme.

Do check out these and all the other perks being offered to thank you for your contribution in support of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording.

[Ed. Note: We are having a bit of a technical problem with the paypal link for the new perks -- but there is a donation link a the top of the perks page and also on the main page of the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording site. We are working to correct the glitch, so your patience is greatly appreciated, but if you want to donate, just go to the main page and use the link there. Thanks so much.]


The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and Suzie LeBlanc will be at Word on the Street (http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/halifax) this year taking place on 23 September 2012, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Halifax Waterfront, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. We’ll be talking about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, about other EB100 legacy projects, about the EBSNS and about Elizabeth Bishop herself. Come and hear some poetry. We will be accepting donations for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New book about Elizabeth Bishop by George Montiero

Writer and scholar George Monteiro from Brown University, has a new book just out from McFarland (http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/?p=2479 ): Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and After: A Poetic Career Transformed. I’ve not yet seen it, but it is always exciting to see more written about Bishop’s time in Brazil. George is the editor of Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop, an indispensable collection of interviews done during Bishop’s life.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More Elizabeth Bishop at the Atlantic Film Festival 2012

In addition to John Scott’s short “First Death in Nova Scotia, Toronto film-maker Cassandra Nicolaou’s film “Where Are the Dolls,” also based on an Elizabeth Bishop poem and featuring well-known Canadian actress Megan Follows, will also be screened at the upcoming Atlantic Film Festival, on Sunday Sunday evening, 16 September 2012.

It is tremendously exciting to have these Bishop films receive an opportunity for a wide audience during such a festive occasion. I am glad that the AFF organizers scheduled them on different nights, which will expand that audience.

To find out more about Cassandra Nicolaou’s film, click this link. See you at the movies!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Suzie LeBlanc talks to Radio-Canada about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording

Listen to an interview with Suzie LeBlanc, en fran├žaise, on Radio-Canada’s feature “Les Meilleurs Moments.” It is posted until Monday, 27 August 2012. Here is the link:

We hope you will consider supporting the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording project (go to www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca and make a contribution!!). We are just over 10% to our goal, so have a way to go. Every contribution is helpful. Be sure to check out the perks (thank you gifts) we have set up. Contribute online or send us a cheque. All the information is on the site.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012



Halifax, NS (8.22.2012) -- First Death in Nova Scotia, the latest adaptation of an Elizabeth Bishop poem by director John Scott, will premiere at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, NS. The short was filmed in January 2012 in Great Village, NS where Bishop’s maternal grandparents resided. Bishop spent formative years in Great Village and often wrote about her experiences there in her poems and short stories.

The film stars talented newcomer Anneke Stroink as a young Elizabeth Bishop and  Zoe D’Amato as her mother Gertrude. Set in the early 20th Century, the film was shot at the period perfect Blaikie House Bed and Breakfast. Cast and crew were housed at the Blaikie House as well as at Bishop’s family home the Elizabeth Bishop House. Director of the Elizabeth Bishop House and Bishop scholar Sandra Barry says the film “is wonderfully atmospheric, evocative, true to the spirit of the poem and to the actual events on which the poem is based.”

“I’m so happy that the Atlantic Film Festival is presenting this film that celebrates the work of Elizabeth Bishop who I believe was the greatest storyteller and poet who ever lived here” said John Scott.  “I hope audiences find that this adaptation of her poem lives up to her legacy.”  

John Scott has won many awards and distinctions as an independent filmmaker and producer. Recent work includes the widely reviewed feature-length documentary Scouts Are Cancelled and the short Dear Pam both of which premiered at the Hot Docs Documentary Festival in Toronto. Scouts are Cancelled won the Rex Tasker Documentary Award for Best Atlantic Documentary at The Atlantic Film Festival in 2007.

Scott worked as field producer for Street Cents and as a news editor with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has an MFA in Film and Video Production from the University of Iowa and teaches film and video production at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY.

Scott has produced two other adaptations of Bishop’s poems -- One Art and Sandpiper. The short films are part of a long-form documentary in development called, Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Losing.

For more information on the film, visit John Scott’s website at http://www.magpieproductions.com/ 
For information about screening times, please see:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording Update – We Still Need Your Help!

I’m excited to report that the recent session for the EB Legacy Recording was a great success. It means that the settings by composers John Plant and Christos Hatzis have been recorded. The Alasdair MacLean and Emily Doolittle settings will be done later in the fall. Suzie, the musicians and the technicians say that they are really pleased with how things went. They found St. David’s a wonderful venue and will probably use it again in the fall.

You can see them hard at work in this action shot of Blue Engine String Quartet (with Dinuk Wijeratne and Suzie LeBlanc on the right), taken by John Adams (Stonehouse Sound):

You can also see them here, happy after all their hard work, also taken by John. From left to right: Conductor Dinuk Wijeratne, Suzie LeBlanc, Christos Hatzis. How wonderful that Christos came down from Toronto to be at this session!

We are really hoping to have some video to post of the sessions, and other things, soon.

If you check out the EB Legacy Recording site (www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca) you can see that we are making progress with the fund-raising campaign. We still need your help to make this beautiful music come to life again so that we can bring it to the world. We have some wonderful perks for your contributions and are cooking up some more ideas, which we’ll be putting up very soon – stay tuned!

On Thursday, 23 August, the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording project and fund-raising campaign will be featured in the Colchester Weekly News (part of the Truro Daily News outfit (http://www.trurodaily.com/). The piece will appear in the newspaper itself and will also be online for awhile. Thanks so much to Sherry Martell who did the piece. Her interest and support is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed – we are most grateful – but as you can see, we are still some distance from our goal. With economic times as they are, artists are needing to find new ways to raise money and support their creative endeavours. Crowd source fund-raising is one of those ways. It means that anyone can be part of the team and help bring amazing art into the world because all it requires is a small contribution. Of course, we’d love to have and would be grateful for big contributions, but, truly, it is lots of people helping in any way they can that builds the support we need.

Around Elizabeth Bishop there is an amazing community of readers, artists and scholars, across the globe. In Nova Scotia, that community has grown amazingly because of the EB100 celebrations in 2011 and the work of the EBSNS since 1994. All the creative projects that were done in Nova Scotia last year happened because of a strong, vibrant arts community. There are countless worthy projects out there to support, but we believe this one is a real winner! Its reach will be far and wide. The music is so beautiful (I can say this enthusiastically as a member of all the audiences for the performances in 2011, all of which were utterly memorable.) We hope that you, too, will support this project. Become part of the Elizabeth Bishop community – it is a welcoming place and Bishop’s art will enrich your life!

We look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording Rehearsal at St. David’s Church – 13 August 2012

I open the north side door of St. David’s Church and enter the quiet, still sanctuary. The heat and humidity, the noise and bustle of the busy downtown streets of Halifax recede. Even as sound technician Rod Sneddon adjusts microphones, there is a lovely, deep silence enveloping this space. I sit near the back of church, on a cushioned pew that makes no creak, even though the wood is old. This church was well-built. It survived the Halifax Explosion.

I am early for the afternoon rehearsal for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, so I settle into my seat and try to absorb the quietude around me. Rod comes over to say a quick hello. Shortly afterwards, Dinuk Wijeratne arrives (http://www.dinukwijeratne.com/). He is conducting the ensemble. We chat for a little while, in hushed voices. I learn about the many exciting projects he has done this summer, the equally exciting projects he is now working on, including a commission for the acclaimed Gryphon Trio.

Slowly, the musicians appear, one by one, and settle into their spots, tune, find their own levels and their relations with each other. Suzie LeBlanc (http://www.suzieleblanc.com) arrives. I chat with her briefly. We discuss how to get some photographs to an editor at The Colchester Weekly News. She introduces me to the producer John Adams of Stonehouse Sound (http://stonehousesound.com/). What a team Suzie has assembled for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording!

This session is to rehearse and then record the four beautiful Bishop settings, the songs, composed by Christos Hatzis (http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~chatzis/). There are eleven musicians (violins, viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, French horn, and harp – the members of Blue Engine String Quartet (http://blueenginestringquartet.com) and Symphony Nova Scotia (http://www.symphonynovascotia.ca) – and then there is Suzie’s stunning voice.

What a privilege it is to sit in the quiet of St. David’s, to watch and listen to these consummate musicians work through the pieces, discuss the music, the process. To watch the technicians arrange equipment. I have never seen the inner workings of a recording session. I suppose for the musicians, it is familiar, a matter of course. I find it intriguing, exciting, mysterious.

I hear the settings of “Insomnia” and “The Unbeliever.” Even as this is practice, with starts and stops, and discussion, as the music soars through the high-ceilinged sanctuary, in spite of the warm air, I shiver. Whenever I have heard these settings and the others that will be included in this recording, I feel a thrill of excitement, a pang of pride, but even more, I am deeply moved.

I don’t want to leave, but I must. As quietly as I can, I slip out the north door into the now bright sunshine and steamy air. As I write this little note, I still hear the music in my mind (it is decidedly hum-able, songs that inhabit one’s soul).

The campaign to raise funds for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording continues. We need your help. Go to www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca to find out how you can be part of this historic project: the first time Canadian composers set Bishop’s poems – and they did so as part of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary, 2011 – and presented in a series of memorable premiere performances that Nova Scotians had the great privilege to hear last year. Our goal is to share this music with the world. Your help is deeply appreciated.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Interview about Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording campaign on CTV Morning Live!

This morning (9 August 2012), Suzie LeBlanc and I were interviewed by Heidi Petrack on CTV Morning Live (Atlantic) – http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/ctv-morning-live-1.687875 – about the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording project. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about the fundraising campaign – see the campaign website at www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca. We are hoping to be able to link to or post a video of this interview at some point – we’re working on it. Stay tuned! Heidi was incredibly supportive of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary celebrations in 2011, and we are grateful for her continued interest in the EB100 legacy. Thanks, Heidi!

Just over a week after we launched the campaign, we have reached 10% of our goal – that is $6,000. Thanks to all the people who have already contributed, helping us get the momentum going. As I mentioned in my last post, we will be putting up an HONOUR ROLL page next week, one way we can publicly thank everyone who has contributed and will contribute. We also have some fun video to post over the next few weeks. Our dear blog master, John Barnstead, has had a well-earned break this week (even so, he has managed to post a few “Todays in Bishop.”

Suzie and her fabulous team of musicians are doing another recording session next week here in Halifax, at lovely St. David’s Church (http://saintdavids.ca/). Their session in June recorded the John Plant songs. This session will record the Christos Hatzis songs. There will be a third session in September to record the Alasdair MacLean and Emily Doolittle songs. Not only is the fund-raising campaign gaining steam, but the recordings are happening – tremendously exciting to have this project manifesting.

We still need your support – the campaign will continue through August and September and we will be posting updates and other information. Keep watch on this blog and also check out the EB100 Legacy Recording blog (www.eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca) – it is there that you can learn about our progress and all about the “Perks” we’ve collected as thank yous for your contributions! Check them out!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Momentum Is Building -- Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording

A week ago today we officially launched the crowd source fund-raising campaign for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording. We are nearing the $5,000 mark!!! We want to thank everyone who has contributed so far. Your interest in and support for this exciting project is greatly appreciated! Momenutum is building. Help keep the ball rolling. We still need your contributions and your help spreading the word!!!

Keep watch on this blog and on the EB Legacy Recording blog (http://eb100legacyrecording.blogspot.ca/) for updates and more information. Next week, we will put up our HONOUR ROLL with the names of contributors. We will also be posting new videos and other background information about the campaign, the composers and the pieces being recorded, during the next several weeks.

Below is a lovely commentary about Bishop’s poem “Sunday 4 A.M.,” by composer John Plant, whose setting of these intriguing words is one of the pieces recorded for the cd. “Sunday 4 A.M.” was published in The New Yorker on 20 September 1958. The text of the poem is readily available online with just a search of the title. Stay tuned for updates and interesting features.



I’ve tried to create the sense of a flooded, floating dreamworld at the beginning. There’s a profusion of religious imagery in this poem, but this imagery is all jumbled up with secular hardware, and sometimes rusty hardware at that. I evoked the “cross- and wheel-studded” with swooping lines punctuated by irregular jagged pizzicatos. The “ancillary / Mary” suggests the Virgin Mary, both because of the color blue and the word “ancillary” (in the Latin text of the Annunciation Mary identifies herself as “ancilla Domini”, the handmaiden of the Lord) — but it also might be an old acquaintance, tall Mary Sterns. The steady upward movement suggests not only her tallness, but the vaporous evanescence of her appearance and indeed of her identity. Nails suggest the cross, but the nails are rusty, in a homely kitchen knifebox. The agitated music here is meant to suggest rusty nails rattling around in a box. A “vox humana” is a stop on a church organ — or a parlour organ; but the voice is rather that of a discontented ghost.

The gray horse needs shoeing!
It’s always the same!
What are you doing,
there, beyond the frame?
If you’re the donor,
you might do that much!

The donor might be God, the putative giver of life, or a patron who donates an altar (altered) cloth to the church. I've turned these lines into a sort of baroque da capo (ABA) aria, but one which fragments at the repeat.

Turn on the light. Turn over.
On the bed a smutch

The dreamer briefly awakens, but only to fall into another dream; the constant is the jumbling of religious and secular imagery. The smutch on the bed becomes a Renaissance painting on an altar (altered) cloth — Gesso is what you put on a cloth or canvas in order to be able to paint on it; and the gold suggests the gold leaf of a Renaissance religious painting. Given Bishop’s own Presbyterian upbringing, I’ve crosspatched a sort of distorted Protestant hymn with Gregorian chant here.

The cat, a predator, emerges from the other dream, or perhaps it’s a real cat which transmogrifies into a dream cat; musically, I've shown the cat pursued by its ghost shadow (bowed/pizzicato passages in canon). I hope the moment that cat jumps to the window, moth in mouth, is clear — the pizzicato is intercepted by a single loud sustained note.

Toward the end, the brook is flooding the dream — to the point that it reaches the stairs, even reaches the dreamers' foot dangling from the bed — until a bird, heard from outside, in the real world, puts everything right by arranging two notes at right angles — (the sacred and the profane? the dream note and the note heard in the real world?) by reorganizing the dreamer’s perspective as she awakens. This poem is adjacent to “Sandpiper” in Bishop's collection Questions of Travel, and I am certain that the proximity of the two birds is deliberate. — John Plant

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The EBSNS and Suzie LeBlanc officially launched the “crowd source” fund-raising campaign for the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording on Monday, 30 July 2012. We were thrilled to have a feature about Suzie and the campaign, written by John Allemang, appear in the Arts Section of that day’s Globe & Mail (a link to that feature is found in the News Links section of this blog). Above is the wonderful video Suzie did to tell you about the campaign. We have set up a separate site for the campaign -- please visit to find out more:

One of our first contributors – Rose Morley wrote: “I read of this wonderful initiative in yesterday’s Globe & Mail; as I love hearing of epiphanies on any scale or in any area, I thought it quite wonderful that Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry could have such an affect on as glorious and established a singer as Suzie LeBlanc. The article also sent me to my shelves to re-acquaint myself with Bishop’s words once more. I am so glad to contribute to the recording and am looking forward to hearing it. Suzie LeBlanc is without doubt my favourite soprano.”

On Thursday morning, 8:15 Atlantic time, Suzie LeBlanc and Sandra Barry will be interviewed on CTV Morning Live with Heidi Petracek!!!


Little Miss Elizabeth Bishop, circa 1916.
This photo was taken by Truro, N.S. photographer
J.E. Sponagle

My dream six years ago was to have A Canadian composer set A Bishop poem to music. What actually happened during EB100 in 2011 was beyond my wildest dreams – and it was all because of Suzie LeBlanc’s vision. All the events of EB100 were wonderful and brought lively experiences to and created vivid memories for hundreds of people. I am grateful for it all. But I am proudest of the music that was inspired by Bishop’s art and deeply grateful to Suzie, the composers and all the musicians for all they did to bring it into being and for all they are doing now to make this recording a reality.

The settings of Bishop’s poems that were composed by Christos Hatzis, Alasdair MacLean, Emily Doolittle and John Plant are beautiful, powerful, and remarkably different – the range is astonishing – and with Suzie’s voice and the playing by a group wonderful musicians, the results will be, in a word: magical!

We need your help to make this cd a reality. Help us make history. Be a part of this lasting legacy. We are deeply grateful for all contributions – every amount helps. Visit the campaign site and find our more about this project and how to contribute.

We will be posting progress reports on the campaign site. And we will also be posting updates about the campaign on this blog – additional videos, comments from the composers. Stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Management Sincerely Regrets...

... that the opportunity to acquire a free bicycle from the Paris Review came to our attention only after the July 22 deadline. We are sure our readers could have provided admirable descriptions of the contest picture in 300 words or less of pure Bishop-ese...

A search of the announcement page for the contest using the term 'Bishop' should allow the perspicacious reader to find at least one entry pertaining to Our Heroine (tm). Perhaps readers who would care to try their hand in this venue could submit their efforts as a comment appended to this post? While we haven't a bicycle to hand, we will be happy to provide those who answer the call to glory by August 1, 2012 with an Elizabeth Bishop Centenary pencil (while supplies last -- when they run out, we'll think of something equally toothsome to offer as an acknowledgment of your efforts)...