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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

EB turns up in interesting places

A few of us over the years have paid attention to Bishop’s appearance in unusual places: films, young adult novels, television shows and so on. Her words have appeared as epigraphs in fiction and non-fiction books. Her poems have been read on the big screen. (All of these appearances are outside the major treatments of her by composers, visual artists, documentary film makers, fellow poets, and the literary critical industry around her.)

Indeed, John has been locating and posting some of these interesting and strange places where Bishop or her art have found a unique place.

I think a whole study could be done about the way Bishop’s art has infiltrated other art and even mainstream cultural expression. I suppose it is so for many other poets, such as Dickinson and Frost; but for those of us who love Bishop’s work, it is fun to come across her in places where one isn’t looking for her.

Recently, my sister read Brad Kessler’s 2006 novel Birds in Fall: A Novel, which uses the tragedy of the 1998 Swiss Air crash off the coast of Nova Scotia as a foundation for a fictional story about the families who lost loved ones in that terrible disaster. She excitedly showed me a spot near the end of the book which includes a passing but clearly knowledgeable reference not to Bishop’s art but to her life.

The reference is near the bottom of the page.

Brad Kessler, a very interesting fellow, who clearly spent time in NS before (perhaps even during) the writing of this novel. His novel came to us via Heather Killen, who owns a wonderful used bookstore in Berwick, N.S., called Shelf Life. I had not heard about it before – when I am done with it, I will pass it on to Laurie Gunn to put in the EB House – it only seems appropriate.

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