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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Helena Bonham Carter reads Elizabeth Bishop

A correspondent in Germany, who is a fan of both Elizabeth Bishop and Helena Bonham Carter just sent me a link to the latter offering a truly delightful reading the former's "Letter to NY." Check it out here. Stay safe and well.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Sanderlings and Sandpipers

Belfast’s Mary Montague is a poet, naturalist and writer for The Guardian. In a recent piece she describes an encounter with sanderlings, akin to semipalmated sandpipers, marvelous shore birds that are mesmerizing to watch. Mary is a big Elizabeth Bishop fan and has been to Nova Scotia and Great Village. When she was writing this piece, Mary wrote me to ask if the bird Bishop saw that inspired “Sandpiper” might have been a sanderling, and it could have been; but I have always been under the impression that she was seeing semipalmated sandpipers. In her Guardian piece, Mary evokes EB’s “Sandpiper” as she watches the fascinating birds inhabit the shoreline. Bishop is turning up in so many places these days. It is nice to see her words resonate with so many people, on so many levels. Her relevance continues to intensify.

You can find out more about Mary Montague on her website, and read all her pieces in The Guardian by clicking here.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Moya Pacey’s new poetry collection

Australian poet Moya Pacey has published a new collection, Doggerland, evocative poems about her childhood in England. Each poem is a memory gem, as vibrant as it is unsettling, as resonant as it is mysterious.

Moya was the winner in the adult category of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Writing Competition in 2011 and is featured in our Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop collection (2012). Indeed, one of the poems in her new collection, “I Feel You Breathing,” is a poetic version of the story which won her first place. This collection is one that Bishop herself would appreciate, filled as it is with particular and peculiar details, and the child’s perspective.

(Moya Pacey from her Facebook page)

Monday, February 8, 2021

"Second Load of 110" --

-- was the bus I took home from Lyndon School when I was in Primer Class -- we had to wait until the First Load had been safely delivered before we could embark on our quotidian trip home. I have spent this morning watching the 1936 Japanese film "Mr. Thank You," based on Yasunari Kawabata's short story of the same name, a depiction of a bus covering a route of some eighty kilometers through rural Japan to Tokyo, its driver as famous along his route for expressing his gratitude to every person he passed and flock of chickens he scattered as Abner Packer was on the road to Mobile for exchanging waves with Buddy and Miss Sook in Truman Capote's "Christmas Memory"; just the other day I was reading C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, with its bus journeying from Hell to Heaven, and its own curious driver. These disparate vehicular peregrinations combine for me with the bus in Bishop's "Cape Breton" and thence with its Doppelganger journeying west in "The Moose" -- all these embodying some vast archetypal microcosm, the universality of which in literature I find appropriately paralleled in mathematics by the computational universality of one of the simplest one dimensional cellular automata, "Rule 110" (wouldn't you just know it would be 110...) in Wolfram's numbering scheme for such objects. Looking out the window of this Bus of Buses, I can just make out now, for once, then, something -- 

Apostles.  Lupins.
Admonitory fingers.
Their sole suppliants.

for Elizabeth Bishop
on her one hundred tenth birthday.

I am so grateful to my partner in crime, Sandra Barry, for providing the First Load of 110 earlier this morning, making this second load possible, and to her partner in crime, Emma Fitzgerald, for having generously shared with me some time ago a photograph she took of lupins in the garden of Casa Mariana in Ouro Preto, which convinced me of the universality of correspondences between Nova Scotia and Minas Gerais.  

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Bishop!

On this stormy day in Nova Scotia (we have already seen over 30cm of snow where I am situated) which marks Elizabeth Bishop's 110th birthday, I share a bright, cheerful and sunny drawing from Emma FitzGerald, the illustrator of Rita Wilson's wonderful book about EB, A Pocket of Time (Nimbus 2019).

Of this image, Emma writes:

"I am attaching 'Bike and Bloom' which I sketched in Great Village in October 2013 during my first residency at the Bishop house, a few days after the anniversary of her death. It is currently being reworked into a largescale 'mural'/wall art for a financial institution in downtown Halifax at King's Wharf on the water, (my deadline for refining the drawing is Feb 8 - Bishop's Birthday) so it will have a new life in a new form."

Emma will let us know when her mural gets underway -- probably not for some time, but even so, something to look forward to when the snow is swirling outside and the wind howling.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Bishop!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Elizabeth Bishop Day in Key West


This proclamation just in from Malcolm Willison. Nice to see the folks in Key West will mark EB's 110th birthday, even amid a global pandemic. Thanks Malcolm for sharing this news with us. (click to enlarge the image)

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Brainpickings on "One Art"

The poetry blog "Brainpickings" calls "One Art" "the ultimate pandemic poem" and "a haiku in the higher mathematics of meter." Read more effusions here.