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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“I am in need of music” launched in Australia!

From left to right: Cathy Meinig, Craig Hill (clarinetist),
Dindy Vaughan, Mariette Perrinjaquet (artist), Peter Meinig

Dindy Vaughan, our keen supporter in Australia, hosted a launch for “I am in need of music.” The gathering occurred at Dindy’s home in Croydon, on Sunday, 24 November, 3:00-6:00 p.m. Dindy writes, “The day was unusually cold for late spring, and some people rang to say the current flu virus had put them out of action, but we still had a warm and friendly gathering with those who came. We played the CD right through, reading some of the poetry, all interspersed with good things to eat and drink; although wine was supplied, I have NEVER in my life made so many cups of tea at such a function!! I think the weather must have got into everyone’s bones!”

 Skye Bannard and Gerard Flynn performing viola duets.
 Holly May Caldwell, one of the attendees, remarked of the music, “A stunning work, very much enjoyed by all — congratulations to all involved.” Dindy adds, “3MBS FM Radio presenter Tony Thomas let me know that he had received the CD I posted, and he will certainly be broadcasting it, so that was good news too.” So, stay tuned Australia, for more of “I am in need of music”!

 Dindy standing with "River -- 4 Panels" (Part 1) by Graham Willoughby

Dindy also noted that she had a mini-art exhibition in her hall and library, featuring works by Janice McBride, Graham Willoughby, Levantai, Brigid Burke, Neil McLeod and Judi Woodward — all Australian artists with well-established careers.

 "Seashepherd at Williamstown" by Janice McBride

Thank you Dindy, and all your friends, for being so steadfastly and enthusiastically supportive of this project.

 "Jijay" by Neil MacLeod, rug featured is by textile artist Isabel Foster

To purchase the CD:

Holly Caldwell with "Untitled" by Levantai

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- A great Christmas gift!!

Thanks to the Shoreline Journal (http://www.theshorelinejournal.com/), a community newspaper serving Colchester County, for publishing a notice from the EBSNS about Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, which we think makes a great Christmas gift: a diverse group of writers and delightful writing, reasonably priced and not expensive to mail.
 You can purchase a copy of Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop online at the EBSNS website:


Friday, November 22, 2013

"I am in need of music" -- A report by Wendy Lawrence about the Ottawa Launch

About 50 guests happily responded to an invitation to join soprano Suzie LeBlanc and co-hosts Monique Léger and Patrick Smith for the Ottawa launch of I am in need of music, the new CD/DVD which is a testament to the 2011 centenary celebration of poet Elizabeth Bishop’s Nova Scotia roots.

During the early evening of November 12, participants chatted over wine and cheese at Mary Albota’s striking loft condo, with its brick walls hinting at the historic building’s 19th century hospital origins.

I asked some other guests what brought them to this gathering, and their answers varied: one was a close friend of Suzie’s from childhood; another was an English teacher who loves Bishop’s poetry; still another was a local classical music fan encountering Bishop’s work for the first time. 

Monique and Patrick welcomed everyone, and we then gathered around to hear from Suzie.  She began by introducing the project, which was clearly a labour of love:  after discovering Elizabeth Bishop's work, she had invited certain Canadian composers to set some of the poems to music, using crowd-sourcing as one funding method.  The format of this event was similar to that in Toronto: Suzie began by paying tribute to the composers, musicians, and other collaborators, though they were unable to attend in Ottawa.  Particular mention went to Sandra Barry for her expertise and dedication to Bishop's legacy, as well as to Linda Rae Dornan, who filmed Suzie and herself (Walking with EB) as they retraced the 21-year-old Bishop's three-week trek with a friend across Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in 1932.  Suzie described this adventure as frantic at first, but ultimately a very positive “exercise in slowing down.”  Next, Suzie asked writer Daniel Poliquin to read two of the very different Bishop poems which were chosen to receive settings (by Alasdair MacLean and John Plant, respectively):  the tender love poem “Breakfast Song,” and “Sandpiper,” where Bishop's typically close observations of nature are on show. 

Finally, the ‘piece de resistance’: we were treated to an intimate performance by Suzie, ably aided by Frederic Lacroix on piano.  While the CD background settings are for instrumental groupings, Suzie explained that Christos Hatzis had also created arrangements for piano accompaniment for two of his compositions.  First came the witty and jagged “Insomnia,” which requires a playful touch and much vocal agility.  And to conclude, Suzie sang “Anaphora,” which while rather opaque, chronicles the sensuous side of “every day in endless/ endless assent” – and could that also be ‘ascent’?  Hatzis in his illuminating notes thinks so, as he finds a religious undercurrent which must have prompted his swelling “Broadway” (his word) phrases that call on Suzie to soar up to peaks of high A’s.  Of course,  she effortlessly does.  This piece closes the CD, and it was a fitting ending for the launch program, too.

Up close and personal at the Ottawa launch
of "I am in need of music"

Like Suzie, I am a latecomer to Bishop's writings.  In January 2010, I travelled to the annual Key West Literary Seminar, which featured the last 60 years of American poetry.  The Toronto organization Classical Pursuits sponsored a seminar there immediately afterward, and Bishop – with her Key West connection – was one of the writers of focus.  As someone who also attended the CD launch in Toronto, I was delighted to have the chance to hear Suzie singing ‘up close and personal’ again, and to tell her directly that hers is among my favourite classical voices.  (Since we are now in the pre-Christmas season, I would heartily recommend her a cappella duet with Daniel Taylor, “There is no Rose of such Virtue” on the 1999 Atma CD Star of the Magi.)

What is next for Suzie LeBlanc, now that she has ventured on this personal initiative that takes her outside the usual bounds of classical performing?  Will she seek out other writers to champion musically?  Will she use crowd-sourcing again?  Who knows?  Maybe she could be persuaded to explore other worthy poets such as the recently departed Canadians P. K. Page, Jay Macpherson, and Margaret Avison.

Note:  Full disclosure:  Wendy Lawrence has an academic background in literary studies and teaching (yes, she was taught by Jay Macpherson), and a life-long interest in music.  After retiring from a career involving international development and women's rights, she now studies classical voice with soprano Wanda Procyshyn and enjoys choir singing in Ottawa.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

“I am in need of music” launched in Ottawa

On 12 November 2013, Suzie LeBlanc held another launch for the EB legacy recording in Ottawa. It was organized by Monique Léger, a friend of Suzie’s since her childhood in Moncton, and Patrick Smith, an Ottawa realtor and horse whisperer (a man of many talents!). The gathering was held at Heritage Wallis House, 589 Rideau Street, the home of Mary Albota. About 50 people attended. Suzie was accompanied by pianist Frédérique Lacroix. Some of the notable guests were André Jutras, Chair of the Music Production grant program of the Canada Council, which helped support the CD; David Jarraway of University of Ottawa; and Sylvie Bigras. Suzie reports that CBC Radio 2 has chosen “In am in need of music” as the CD of the week, this week. Congratulations! Yet another celebration of this important project will take place “down under,” that is, in Australia. Australian composer and musician Dindy Vaughan will be hosting a launch later this month. If we get some photos, I’ll be sure to post them. Dindy held a fund-raiser for the CD last year. She has been wonderfully supportive of this endeavour. Remember, you can purchase the CD, it makes a wonderful Christmas gift, through Suzie’s website: www.suzieleblanc.com or CentreDiscs’s website: http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/77772 or at ArkivMusic’s website: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Name/Suzie-LeBlanc/Performer/15333-2. Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Exciting Launch for "I am in need of music"

I am excited to report that there was a large and enthusiastic gathering at the second launch of "I am in need of music" and "Walking with EB," on 22 October 2013 at Massey College in Toronto. Warmly hosted by John Fraser, the Master of Massey College, the programme included remarks by Mr. Fraser, Suzie LeBlanc, Sandra Barry, Linda Rae Dornan -- and a delighteful improvisational performance by musician/composer/conductor Dinuk Wijeratne and CBC Radio 2 host Tom Allan (Tom read Bishop's poem "Sunday 4 A.M." as Dinuk accompanied on the piano. Then, what everyone was waiting for, Suzie performed two songs from the CD ("Insomnia" and "Anaphora" -- settings by Christos Hatzis). Heartfelt thanks to John Fraser and Massey College for their generous support of this project.

The next launch will happen in Ottawa on 12 November.

Suzie LeBlanc and John Fraser (photograph by Alfred Villeneuve)

On 19 October 2013, in the Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, New Brunswick) magazine Salon Focus, Mike Landry wrote a delightful feature about the CD/DVD.

On 21 October, music critic John Terauds wrote a lovely review of the CD in the online Musical Toronto --

Read John Plant's thoughts about his participation in the Bishop Legacy Recording on his blog:

Remember, you can order the CD/DVD online at:

Friday, October 18, 2013


In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:

You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

{Note: The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia will be selling copies of ECHOES at the Great Village Christmas Craft Fair on 2 November and at the Truro Farmers' Market on 16 November.}

 Image by Teresa Alexander Arab
Response by Star Coulbrooke

In a recent letter, Utah writer Star Coulbrooke wrote about reading Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. She has kindly given permission for us to excerpt part of that letter to post as her “comment.”

Star wrote, “I have just finished reading, in Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, the Mary Verna Feehan essay. What an amazing talent for creating emotional realms of a child’s world — I felt as if I were travelling inside the girl who was sensing the adult surrounding of her previously insular and sheltered life, who was feeling their sympathy and concern, with the limited knowledge of worldly behavior, just her child’s perceptions, dreamlike and trusting. A lovely, simple piece with deep layers of insight. I am glad to have a few minutes this morning to delve into the book again …. I finished Echoes last Saturday and wrote about the Anne Pollett piece in my journal, about her mother being “unshakably positive” and always believing in the goodness of others. It was as if she were my sister, because she described my mother’s traits. Mine died in 1999, at 88, having never said a negative thing about anyone she ever met. She lived through the Depression too, as Anne Pollett’s mother did, and was always grateful for the most basic amenities. I believe she instilled that kind of gratitude in me as well, because I have always deeply appreciated the basic comforts of my own fortunate life.”


Star Coulbrooke is responsible for Helicon West, a bi-monthly open readings/featured readers series in Logan, Utah. Her poems appear in journals such as Poetry International, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, and Sugar House Review. Her most recent poetry collection, Walking the Bear, published by Outlaw Artists Press, is a tribute to the Bear River. Star directs the Utah State University Writing Center.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I AM IN NEED OF MUSIC -- Wonderful launch in Halifax on 6 October 2013

What a wonderful gathering it was on Sunday afternoon, 6 October 2013, at PIPA Restaurant in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the launch of "I am in need of music," the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording presented by Suzie LeBlanc, and "Walking With EB," the documentary film by Linda Rae Dornan. It was truly inspiring and deeply moving to bring together so many of the artists and supporters of this wonderful project, a homecoming for all who gathered. I have still not fully processed all that happened, but I wanted to share some photographs of the event, taken by Susan Kerslake. Before I do that, I want to remind you that you can order the CD/DVD set from CentreDiscs: http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/77772.

The CD has also received a wonderful review in the online music magazine, "I Care If You Listen" (http://www.icareifyoulisten.com/magazine/) -- one needs to subscribe to this magazine to see the review.

And now for some photos from this wonderful celebration of the completion of an extraordinary work of art:

The attentive audience.
Our blog master John Barnstead.

Left to Right: Alexander MacLeod (our amazing reader of Bishop's poems), Suzie LeBlanc (our incomparable singer), John Barnstead, Sandra Barry, Alasdair MacLean (one of our amazing composers), Linda Rae Dornan (our inspiring filmmaker), and John Plant (another of our amazing composers).

Thank you to all those won attended -- it felt like a family gathering. Thank you to the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia for sponsoring this wonderful event. Thank you to the amazing artists who worked on this project. Thank you to Suzie LeBlanc and Linda for their creative visions. Thank you to Elizabeth Bishop for her transformative art.

The Atrium at PIPA -- we aspire to great heights.

The next launch is in Toronto on 22 October at Massey College. We'll be sure to post some photos of that event. There will also be a launch in Ottawa on 12 November. Stay tuned for more updates.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part Six

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:

You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

Response from Carmel Cummins
I really want to say very little. All I want to do is keep quoting from this fine book.

We ingest geography. (Mary Jo Anderson)

I won’t drop you. I’m showing you our world. Look out there, baby. That’s our slide shining like the Milky Way. (Moya Pacey)

When you are as fond of a certain place as I am of my grandfather’s cabin, you’ll know the slight feeling of dread as you pull away from it. (Aaron Holland)

There’s something about the ocean, that makes me “me”. (Maria Duynisveld)

I like to sit on the branch and feel the air on my neck…today I am whistling along with the wind. Yes I can whistle.  Most girls can’t. (Lauren Kruisselbrink)

Someday, in this place, I will pass from this world to the next. (Elizabeth Schofield)

One day I will probably have to leave Neil’s Harbor. I’m a small town girl with big dreams. (Dakota Warren)

In Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, both adult and younger writers offer with clarity and humour, an awareness of all our love and longing for what might be home. This book is a celebration of that theme but, as befits echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, there is awareness too of the heart’s complexity and of what is painful and dangerous, especially in the writing from young people as they grapple with what life presents to them. Just the title of Tiffany Vincent’s piece “On the Out [In]side Looking In[Out]” wonderfully evokes such struggle, or Sarah Giragosian’s, The parsonage, a massive New England colonial, has three spots from which a person can jump and possibly land intact… But, as with Bishop, there is a rich sense that fine writing on any theme can offer its own transcendence. There are also beautifully-reproduced images, the small scale taking nothing from, for example, the haunting image of “The Walker” by Teresa Alexander Arab or the colourful delight of “Low Tide” by Joy Laking. The editors, Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn, have performed a great service, for contributors and readers, in bringing this book into the world. 

I still have my In The Village t-shirt from 2011! It emerged from a drawer on Sunday last to be worn on a walk that ended in our returning to my own village by a road I seldom use.  I saw Inistioge with new eyes and was startled by the fresh pleasure and joy another perspective brought. Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop has roads we haven’t walked, even though we think we know the terrain well. No need to have worn the t-shirt to enjoy this book – just an openness, like Bishop and Yeats, that the heart of living (and writing) is the heart.

Image by Bruce Gray

Carmel Cummins is a writer from Co Kilkenny, Ireland. She lives in a village called Inistioge. A poetry group that evolved from the class given by the American poet Jean Valentine in Kilkenny in 1991 has been the main source of support for her work. Her  poems have been published in national magazines, in The Kilkenny Anthology, (1991);  Inkbottle; New Writing from Kilkenny, (2001); and in a chapbook, Woodstock Promenade, (2009). She was awarded first prize in the Black Diamond Poetry Prize in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry Collection Award in 2013. Her latest publications are, for prose, Townlands, a habitation, ed. Alan Counihan, (2012) and, for poetry, Science meets Poetry 3, eds. Jean Patrick Connerade and Iggy McGovern, (2012) and the Kilkenny Broadsheet, (2013). She loved her visit to Great Village in 2011, the wonderful creativity and inclusiveness of the EB 100 celebrations, and the privilege of staying in EB House.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording launch in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Suzie LeBlanc will be performing at a fund-raiser for Opera Nova Scotia earlier in the day, 2:00 p.m., at the Lilian Percy Hall at the Halifax Conservatory. So, you can hear her sing if you attend this event and then come with her to PIPA for food and fun at the launch. You can find out more about both these wonderful events at Suzie's website: www.suzieleblanc.com.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part Five

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:

You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

Response from Linda Hargrave

Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn have created a small gem of a book with Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. We begin with a quote from Bishops iconic “In The Village” and then, almost at the end, are treated to a fresh perspective in the voice of eleven year old Ryan Spencer, writing a letter to Elizabeth herself. A lot has changed, but you would still recognize the village, writes Ryan, “I go to the same school you went to when you were a little girl.” His letter reminds us of how change is inevitable but how in rural Nova Scotia, as in most rural communities, much remains the same.

I’m sure Elizabeth would have loved this little book with its sumptuous dust jacket that invites your touch, the gorgeous design of its front cover, and especially its provocative contents. Comprised mostly of emerging young writers and artists the book itself is a journey and a glance into lives being lived. Here and now.

Some are the stories of those who came by choice from far away places, others are the connections made by the authors to the generations who were here long before them. Chris Greene shares with us the excitement of moving here from England to begin a new life. Ryan Atkinson writes hauntingly of the river near his home where much of his youth was played out. “We swam and spent hours talking and joking and looking for love,” he tells us, and then, glancing pensively back over the years, asks … “Where have my friends gone?”

The rather nebulous Aaron Holland writes beautifully of the sugar woods and a camping trip he will never forget, while Dakota Warren takes us to Neil’s Harbour, which she calls home sweet home, but where she still worries when her dad is out on the water fishing lobster. And in her story “Wallace by the Sea,” Maria Duynisveld also speaks of the water. “I feel that water shapes me and my home, and I’m connected to it …. There’s something about the ocean that makes me ‘me’, and I think it’s something that will last forever.”

A simple and elegant, sweet little surprise of a book. Yes, I believe Elizabeth would like this … and I believe it will last. Sandra and Laurie have done a marvelous job.

Painting by Joy Laking
Linda Hargrave moved back home to Nova Scotia three years ago and is happily ensconced in a little white house on Parrsboro Harbour. She happily offers occasional writers workshops for Tantramar Seniors College and  continues to head the writers group “Assembly Of Text” which she began soon after arriving back on her beloved East Coast.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part Four

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:

You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

Response from Mary Ellen Sullivan
When editor Sandra Barry handed me my copy of Echos of Elizabeth Bishop I thought -- what a beautiful book! It is so fitting that the tangible part of this book is a creation of Gaspereau Press, in their classic, ageless style. It is something you handle with care, a structure that does justice to the art work and prose pieces contained in it.

I immediately went to page twenty-five “Wallace by the Sea” by Maria Duynisveld.  Last year, at age eleven, Maria sent me her poem “Summer Haze” a beautiful love poem about her farm. “Wallace by the Sea” is equally lovely, an expression of her love for the land and sea and the people who work them. Her story about lobster fishing with Gramps and her brother John Burns is gentle, observant and vivid in imagery. She describes the experience and her relationship with her brother with twists of humour.  Maria’s use of exclamation marks emphasizes her delight and sense of wonder. They signify to the reader just how pivotal this experience is to her.

Co-contributor Anne Pollett, in “The Three Bookmarks,” refers to “the monotony of the task” as a reflective and creative opportunity.  Similarly, Maria speaks of lobster fishing: “Some people might think it’s boring…”  But not Maria it’s a window into something deeper.

People say that the taste of wine, the ‘minerality’, is dependent on the type of rock the grapevines grow on. I think of the skillful simplicity of images and the precision of memory in Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry and prose, where ‘chores’ become wondrous.  I wonder what type of rock lies under Wallace Bay, whether it’s the same type of rock that Elizabeth Bishop stood on in Great Village.  There is certainly an echo, a flavour of Elizabeth’s voice in Maria’s writing

Maria and Mary Ellen, with Maria's dad and brother, Halifax 2012
 The experience of growing up on a farm has greatly shaped and influenced Mary Ellen Sullivan’s writing.  She has no doubt that the natural and social landscape that Elizabeth Bishop loved as a child was the foundation of her writing career. Mary Ellen is the ‘Open Heart Farming’ poetry harvester. She is a member of the EBSNS.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Exchanging Hats

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part 3

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:
You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

Response from Helen Cannon

A recent New York Times Book Review featured an essay by Phillip Lopate who confesses that despite the literary accolades he’s received over the years, he nevertheless finds himself wondering why his work has not received this prize or that. For aspiring writers, it’s never enough. “Regrettably, I’ve never been very good at counting my blessings,” Lopate admits, so we’re made aware an established and lauded writer — one of the literary demigods — can still crave prizes and formal recognition. Why not a Guggenheim, and what about the MacArthur, and while he’s dreaming, why not the Nobel?

On the page opposite Lopate’s obsessing about awards is a feature on the history and anniversary of the Caldecott medal. “It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people.” E.B. White put these words in the mouth of an aspiring pig by the name of Wilbur, who recognizes that his very life was saved by his spider friend’s terse accolade, “Some pig!”

Clearly prizes and recognitions encourage and give affirmation to writers, young and old. Elizabeth Bishop herself found impetus and incentive to write by way of winning a prize offered by The New Yorker magazine. With a purse of one thousand dollars, this fellowship was aimed at young writers hoping to publish their first books. Katharine White, then the poetry editor at The New Yorker, encouraged Bishop to submit, which she did, and won. This marked only the beginning of The New Yorker’s editing and publishing of Bishop’s poetry and prose. Most writers are spurred on by publication. Emily Dickinson, with her dresser drawer poetry, is the rare exception.

All of this is to say that I consider the Bishop centenary project, Echoes, to be of high merit, because of the incentive it offered to writers, young and old. Most of the writers and artists whose works appear in Echoes had already been recognized in an earlier Bishop centenary competition, but Echoes brings to fruition by way of publication, and singularly beautiful publication at that. Gaspereau Press of Nova Scotia refuses anything short of perfection in its publishing, and this handsome little booklet proves the point with its navy textured jacket and beautiful silver and navy flowered bound cover. All of the writers and artists represented in this beautiful chapbook have obvious reason to feel proud.

But this lovely book not only serves as incentive and recognition to writers young and old, it also offers quality to readers. From Mary Jo Anderson’s confident and wonderful opening essay, “Home Body,” to Laurie Gunn’s closing photo image, “Looking Towards the Blacksmith Shop,” possessors of this little book have sure reason to value it.

I thought for a long while about the choice of title and the reasoning behind it, then I read again Teresa Alexander Arab’s paragraph accompanying her resonant photograph that she calls “The Walker.” In that paragraph Arab gives ample and reasonable validity to the choice of title: “... A photograph shows a moment that can never be repeated, but it is an  echo of that moment only.” Arab then accurately and sensitively considers Bishop’s poem “One Art,” and concludes that every loss leaves an echo behind — “a hole ... that is the exact size and shape of the loss. The art of loss is not so much the acceptance of loss but recognition of the echo it leaves in our lives, and in some cases our souls. ... Life can [be] viewed as a series of losses, but we can take comfort in the echoes left behind until we too are lost.”

This understanding of echoes certainly sets the tone for the more somber pieces in the collection, but in the happier entries, echoes reflect a sure sense of place. Perhaps I am most charmed by the youngsters winning submissions, their sure affirmations of place and their own place in it,  and I feel sure that Bishop would agree ....

Helen Cannon is a retired teacher of Creative Nonfiction and Contemporary Women’s Literature.  She loved teaching at Utah State University and loved her students, many of whom now remain her fast friends. For a dozen or more years, Helen has had the good fortune to be a student of Sandra Barry, who teaches her most all there is to know about Elizabeth Bishop. She also learns from her mentor about Canadian life and letters, past and present, and, by example, how to live an informed, principled, and giving and good life.

 Photograph by Binnie Brennan

Sunday, September 8, 2013

An Afternoon with Suzie LeBlanc

Join us for a inspiring afternoon about art and life with renowned soprano Suzie LeBlanc. Hear about her many exciting projects, including the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, about to be launched! This event is a fund-raiser for the Elizabeth Bishop House.

Where: Elizabeth Bishop House, Great Village, N.S.
(8740 Highway # 2, right across from Wilson’s)
When: Sunday, 22 September 2013, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Space is limited to 15 people so don’t wait!
Suggested gift $25.00
Reservations will be taken on a first come basis, and they will go fast!!
Light refreshments
(tea, coffee, savouries and sweets)
RSVP ASAP to reserve a place

Suzie LeBlanc first made her mark with music of the 16th and 17th centuries, performing on international stages and researching and recording many unedited works. She appears on over 50 recordings with the world’s leading early music ensembles.

In 2004, she began adding Acadian folk music, art song and lieder to her repertoire, and recorded Mozart lieder with Yannick Nezet-Seguin. She followed this recording with "Chants de terre et de ciel" by Messiaen and "Tempi con variazioni" with the ensemble Melosphere. The last two were awarded an Opus Prize in the Contemporary and World Music categories.

During the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival (2011), she commissioned and premiered several Canadian works on Bishop' poems - works by Alasdair MacLean, Christos Hatzis, Emily Doolittle and John Plant. This repertoire, paired with Linda Rae Dornan's documentary "Walking with EB" is being released this fall.

Suzie has appeared in several documentaries and played the lead role in the feature film “Lost Song,” which won the City TV's Best Canadian Film award at TIFF in 2008. Her many contributions to culture have earned her four honorary doctorates, and in 2011, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) awarded her a bursary for her career achievements.

After a recital tour with pianist Julius Drake this summer, she performed Israel in Egypt for Festival Vancouver and premiered a work by Peter Togni with Sanctuary in Nova Scotia. This coming fall, she performs arias from famous soundtracks with the East Texas Symphony, Carrissimi's Jephte with Tafelmusik, "Summertime" (from Purcell to Gershwin) with Les Voix Humaines, Handel duets and arias with Daniel Taylor for the Montreal Bach Festival and a Christmas concert with Vancouver's Pacific Baroque Orchestra, directed by Alexander Weimann. She will perform the newly released Elizabeth Bishop songs with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in February 2014, directed by Anne Manson.

Suzie LeBlanc is the founder and artistic director of Le Nouvel Opéra, whose recording of Caldara's "La conversione di Clodoveo", directed by Alexander Weimann, was nominated for a Juno Award.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part Two

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:
You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

Response from Sybil Flemming

There are echoes in the Village.

There are echoes from across the Bay; my roots clinging to the opposite shore, and perched on the mountain on the south side of the Valley. For years I was a “come from away,” tagged by those who were here first, but I have been able to stay and can almost say, “O, you’re from away.”

There are echoes in the Village; the church stands tall and proud, guarding the busy corner and the cozy house where Elizabeth lived and felt at home. Nearby the assurance of the fire hall, the busy gas bar, the former corner store where folks gathered to buy milk and bread and eggs. Now I can buy treasures and hear their echoes.

There are echoes in the Village; the aboiteau closes, its clamour unheard as it works to keep the muddy tides out of the peaceful river. The children splash in the Rock Hole near the iron bridge; the sun is hot, there is no school, no bell today.

There are echoes in the Village; what does the artist on her stool see today? I see the eagle soaring over the hay field next door, the crows perching in my aging maples, the young pheasants scrambling for cover under my pines, and the steady rhythms in my community.

There are echoes in the Village; a new generation of elms stretching upward replacing the lofty trees, “We’re coming back!” The power of nature echoes, “Respect me forever.”

There are echoes in the Village; I hear the voices of neighbors. “How’s your garden?” “Did you see Logan’s barn lately?” “Carl’s got a lot of cattle there.” Shared words of wisdom on growing, pruning, fixing, fishing and caring.

There are echoes in the school house; music and math, science and sports. This echo secretly whispers to me about helping young minds to grow, challenging them to try.

There are echoes in my hallway; footsteps from the past reminding me of others who lived here before me: the millionaire, the Cat lady, and nameless others laid here for visitation. I wonder what will be said of me when I am gone.

There are echoes in my garden; echoes of peace and tranquility; a place of searching and contemplating; the questions become more clear, but the answers remain elusive.

There are echoes in my mind; family taken, too young, too soon, too much suffering. But the past takes on a new face as cousins meet and laugh, tales of adventure and folly unroll. Ah, yes, those stories will live on, maybe even stretch and grow as we grow old.

There are echoes against loneliness; the family sounds the make a house a home. Sounds of kids, and Christmases, barbecues and music; Sophie’s excited barking announcing that guests have come; sounds of children’s laughter, sobs and fears. The echoes will continue, sometimes happy, sometimes nagging, but one thought will permeate, now I am home.

The book is awesome, a lot of vignettes from such a diverse group. Hope these reflections fill the niche you want. The Village has changed since EB was here; but I think the essence is the same.

Sybil Flemming grew up in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, just at the beginning of the Annapolis Valley. She attended Acadia University after high school, and at age 55 received an MEd from Mount Saint Vincent University. Her interests are as diverse as the subjects she teaches at West Colchester Consolidated School. Often found in her gardens, or on an organ bench, or gazing at the stars, she is just as happy doing an assortment of hand crafts or reading a book, especially on a beach.

 Photograph by Laurie Gunn

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Readers Respond to ECHOES OF ELIZABETH BISHOP -- Part One

In June 2013, the EBSNS launched Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. The editors have asked a some of our readers to provide a comment, a personal response, to the collection. We will post them over the next few weeks. We hope these readers’ responses will tempt you to buy a copy for your own library. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift! 
You find out more about Echoes on the EBSNS website:
You can purchase online at: http://www.elizabethbishopns.org/publications.html or at Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, N.S.

 Response from Robert Bent

The first time I read Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop I read it just for the enjoyment. I pushed my promise to write this whatever-it-is into the back of my mind, ignored what prize the author had won in what category, and just enjoyed each selection. Out of curiosity, after each story, I turned to the brief biographies at the end of the book. The thing that struck me was not only the age of the writers, some as young as ten, but the quality of their writing and the depth of feeling. I knew in my memory that teenagers could write, for I had been a high school English teacher in a previous life. But ten! Maybe there’s hope for the world after all.

Rather than write about every selection, I want to comment on the youngest writers, beginning with Maria Duynisveld’s “Wallace by the Sea.” Of all the stories in the book, regardless of the age of the author, Maria’s opening lines are my favourite:  “Wallace by the Sea. That’s what they call it. It fits. The wharf — that’s part of what fits. The ocean view — that fits too.”

Wallace by the Sea is a beautiful village, and as Maria describes it, a wonderful place to grow up.  And she nails the ending just as effectively as she nailed the opening:  “There’s something about the ocean that makes me “me,” and I think it’s something that will last forever.”

It will, Maria. It will.

Lauren Kruisselbrink’s story, “Going Climbing” reminds me of another little girl I know who also had “a tree” in front of her house where she would climb “to calm down,” often by reading a book. She grew up to be a very special lady who had lots of adventures, but not as many as she would have wished, I’m afraid. I hope Lauren continues “going climbing” in her “tree” and has as many adventures as her life can hold.  I also know what Lauren’s gonna be. —She’s gonna be — Lauren. And that will be a treat for everyone who meets her, and reads her stories.

Dakota Jewel Warren’s “Home Sweet Home” revisits the same themes first encountered in “Wallace by the Sea,” only now it’s Neil’s Harbour. And she ends with the same sentiment, “I’ll eventually come back one day though because I can’t live without it.”  It’s true. “Home” calls you back, especially if that “home” has dear hearts, gentle people, and a trace of salt in the air; even if you only return in your memories and your dreams.  It’s true of Wallace by the Sea, it’s true of Neil’s Harbour, it’s true of Great Village, and it’s true of all the rural towns and villages scattered around Nova Scotia.

I would like to end with a word for Ryan Spencer. Yes, Ryan, I did enjoy your letter, and I’m sure Elizabeth Bishop would enjoy it too, and smile to know so few things in Great Village have changed.  Do you know why your letter was the last piece in the book?  It’s the same reason you eat dessert last — because after you’ve finished a feast, that’s the taste that lingers in your mouth.

Robert Bent lives in Lawrencetown, in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. He has been previously published in the Nashwaak Review and All Rights Reserved and a series of travel/running articles in the Run Nova Scotia Raconteur. He is currently working on a book of Christmas stories entitled Have Yourself a Silly Little Christmas along with illustrator Andrea Wood.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I am thrilled to write that the Atlantic Film Festival (http://www.atlanticfilm.com/), which takes place from 12-19 September, will be screening two Elizabeth Bishop films. Our own John Scott returns with another wonderful adaptation of an Elizabeth Bishop film, “In the Waiting Room,” on Sunday, 15 September, 2013, at 1:00 p.m., as part of an Atlantic Shorts session. That evening, the Brazilian film “Reaching For the Moon (Flores Rares),” will screen at 7:30 p.m. This film was directed by Bruno Barreto and stars Gloria Pires as Lota and Miranda Otto as Elizabeth Bishop. This film has already been screened in Europe and the United States – I am delighted that the organizers of the AFF made the effort to bring it to Nova Scotia.

Here are the links to these two films on the AFF website:

For the full schedule of the Atlantic Film Festival, see: http://atlantic.festivalgenius.com/2013/schedule/week

ANOTHER EXCITING DEVELOPMENT is the launch of “I Am in Need of Music,” the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording, by the renowned soprano Suzie LeBlanc. This amazing CD is being brought out by Centre Discs (Canadian Music Centre) of Toronto. It is paired with a wonderful DVD, "Walking With Elizabeth Bishop," a documentary film made by Sackville, N.B., film-maker Linda Rae Dornan, about retracing Elizabeth Bishop's footsteps during a 1932 walking tour in Newfoundland. We will announce the dates/times/places of the various launches, which will be taking place in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Toronto and even the US, as soon as they are confirmed.

On 17 September 2013, at the Spring Garden Road Library, Halifax, N.S., at 7:30, I will be involved in a conversation about the art of biography with writer Evelyn White and journalist Angela Mombourquette. I will post a specific notice about this event closer to the day.

Lots of exciting Elizabeth Bishop activities pending – the results of years of hard work and incredible creativity. Elizabeth Bishop inspires so many of us – hard to say what the next hundred years will bring!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

There are no words...

... except, perhaps, those of Miss Bishop:

 "This is a world of books gone flat.
 This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
 that dances weeping down the ward
 over the creaking sea of board
 of the batty sailor that winds his watch
 that tells the time of the busy man
that lies in the house of Bedlam."

Here is Devin Leonard's account of his recent visit to Saint Elizabeth's:

"Homeland Security's Future Home: A Former Mental Hospital"

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Bruce Grey

"This place, with its rolling emerald hills and thick forests, is my home. It’s a place where in autumn the air smells of ripe corn and asters, and in spring it sounds of newborn calves and foals. In the late winter it tastes of homemade maple syrup wrapped in sweet snow, and in the summer it feels of strong stalks of hay." Elizabeth Schofield, First Place, Grades 7–9 Category.

The response to Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop has been overwhelmingly positive. This Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Legacy project was designed and printed by the award-winning Gaspereau Press (http://www.gaspereau.com/) of Kentville, N.S. Gaspereau did its usual superb job and this collection of prose with beautiful visual art is a truly elegant volume. This limited edition book is a must for any book lover’s collection. It makes a wonderful gift.

The price is right, too: $15.00 (no tax), plus postage and handling, if you order online.

To find out more, go to the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia website: www.elizabethbishopns.org where you can purchase copies online. Bookmark (http://bookmarkinc.ca/halifax/), Halifax’s wonderful independent bookstore, is also selling copies (they are located on Spring Garden Road in downtown Halifax).

"Now, when I say the word "camp" chances are you're probably going to think of a tent and a log fire, or maybe even a camper trailer with satellite television in it. But one thing's for sure, when I hear that word those are the last images that come to my mind. The first thing that comes to my mind is the cabin that my grandfather owns." Aaron Holland, First Place, Grade 10-12 Category.

Laurie Gunn