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

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Gathering Place for Expression: The Elizabeth Bishop Festival Market

One of the main features of the Elizabeth Bishop Festival taking place in Great Village on 8 August 2015 is the Festival Market where over a dozen artists and artisans will gather to share their creations. This post is a profile of writer Mary Ellen Sullivan and Open Heart Farming.
Mary Ellen Sullivan grew up on a farm outside Guelph, Ontario, and now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Much of her writing is inspired by her love for her childhood farm. After moving to Halifax in 1995 she developed valued friendships with farmers and other people involved with food and farming issues. As a community occupational therapist she was honoured to hear people’s life stories in their homes.

Her poems and prose have been published in Rural Delivery Magazine, and Rhubarb — a publication of the Mennonite Literary Society, as well as online by The Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, and Canadian Jesuits International. Her short story “Raising Nellie” is included in the Nimbus 2014 anthology In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters. She was the recipient of the 2012 Elora Writers’ Festival writing competition for poetry and the 2014 Atlantic Writing Competition for poetry.

Mary Ellen started Open Heart Farming, an annual collection of farm and food-centric poems by Nova Scotia poets in 2012 and writes the Open Heart Farming blog http://maryellensullivanblog.tumblr.com. She has read at farmers markets and other locations in across Nova Scotia. She participates in the Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week, speaking to elementary students about agriculture in Nova Scotia. Through these and her involvement in other food and farming initiatives, she strives to share the voices of farmers and people involved in food justice issues. She is grateful to the mentors she had as a child that have led her to pursue these actions. And she loves Elizabeth Bishop’s writings.

 Mary Ellen reading at Farmers' Market in Mahone Bay, N.S.
Open Heart Farming is a spinoff of Open Heart Forgery, which is marking its fifth anniversary this year.

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