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

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.

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