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

| ABOUT EB 100

A plaque on St. James United Church in Great Village, N.S., reads: “Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?” The epigraph on Elizabeth Bishop’s gravestone in Hope Cemetery, Worcester, MA, reads: “All the untidy activity continues, / awful but cheerful.” It does not require bronze or granite to fix Elizabeth Bishop’s words in memory. Elizabeth Bishop is one of those rare poets whose work provides aphoristic gems, which we can carry around in our minds and use to help us get through the day or mark significant moments: “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”; “Looking for something, something, something”; “Everything only connected by ‘and’ and ‘and’”; “Somebody loves us all” – and on and on.

One hundred years after her birth, thirty years after her death, Elizabeth Bishop’s art continues to inspire and influence. For the past twenty years, I have had the privilege of witnessing something of this influence as I have met many artists from all over the world, from many disciplines, who came to Nova Scotia in search of the sites and places which influenced Elizabeth Bishop so profoundly, particularly Great Village. My own reading of Bishop’s work has changed my life and affected my art – and many of the artists I have met would accord her an important place in their own development and practice.

As unassuming and reticent as Elizabeth Bishop was in life, the legacy of her art has spread across the globe. The humanity, gentle irony, whimsy and brilliance of her poetry has translated into many languages. The interest in marking her 100th birthday might bemuse Elizabeth Bishop, but it is a genuine and understandable impulse. After all, she herself wrote in “Cirque d’Hiver”: “Well, we have come this far,” so we may as well continue on. I am excited to be involved in the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog with my colleagues John Barnstead and Suzie LeBlanc. This blog will help spread the word not only about the many exciting events and activities planned for 2011 in Nova Scotia and elsewhere but keep you abreast on Elizabeth Bishop activities throughout the world in the years to come after the Centenary has been celebrated.. ~~~ Sandra Barry