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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Celebrations – A few reflections

As the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary comes to a close (hard to believe the autumnal equinox is almost here!), over the next weeks and months, we will be reflecting on the many celebrations, and gradually putting up material (particularly video) that has been created during the year. John has been our trusty videographer, and has accumulated a lot of footage, which he has already started to post on the blog and on our YouTube channel. An example of this is below – the video of our July reading of “These Fine Mornings” – Joelle Biele’s adaptation of the Elizabeth Bishop/New Yorker correspondence. Joelle herself has posted an audio-only recording of that reading on her website: www.joellebiele.com.

What I want to say about that reading, that event, was that it was great fun for me – and I think my fellow readers (John, Suzie LeBlanc and Harry Thurston) had fun, too. We had virtually no rehearsal (just one quick read through a few days beforehand), so it was a spontaneous effort, more or less – but the letters are incredibly lively and funny, the editorial process they describes so revealing, that it was a real pleasure and privilege to be part of it. I hope you can see how much fun we and the audience are having. To be able to do the reading in the sanctuary of St. James United Church in Great Village, the “high-shouldered and secretive” church that loomed over Bishop’s childhood, was also a privilege.

The biggest EB100 event in Nova Scotia (bigger even than the wonderful symposium in June) was the EB100 Arts Festival in August. John has already started to post some video of it on the YouTube Channel, and there is more to come. All of this takes time, of course – but we have lots of interesting material to share.

The Arts Festival was a roaring success and we will be seeing the impact of it in Nova Scotia for some time to come. Congratulations must go out to Joy Laking and Laurie Gunn and the Arts Festival Committee – all their hard work paid off wonderfully.

While the festival was the biggest event, it was not the last event. We are planning an official finale to the EB100 celebrations, to take place from 30 September to 2 October: “Home of the Long Tides”: The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Closing Celebrations. You can find all the information about this event on the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia website: www.elizabethbishopns.org – and over then next few days, I will be posting information about each of the activities taking place during that weekend. We chose this time because it is near the anniversary of Elizabeth Bishop’s death, 6 October. As we began at the time of her birth, 8 February, we thought it appropriate to culminate our activities in early October.

While “Home of the Long Tides” is the big finale for the EBSNS, it is not the final event of the EB100 year – and we will continue to let you know about events and activities being planned. There will also be legacy projects emerging from EB100, for example, we will be publishing the winners of the Writing Competition, and, again, we will let you know about these projects as they unfold.

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