“Greenish-white dogwood infiltrated the wood
each petal burned, apparently, by a cigarette-butt…”
- Elizabeth Bishop, “A Cold Spring”
The cold spring continues unabated in Nova Scotia, not quite 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but enough that we all might begin to grow moss on our heads. How warming to the soul are the launches of two brilliant, beautiful books!
Sandra Barry’s ELIZABETH BISHOP: Nova Scotia’s “Home-made” Poet is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of one of my favourite writers. Sandra Barry, in addition to being an independent scholar, is herself a poet. She brings us an eminently accessible account of this “3/4ths Canadian” writer, written in thoughtful, elegant prose that is a joy to read.
I attended not one, but two of Sandra’s launches, one at the library, a packed room full of Bishop (and Barry!) enthusiasts. The second launch was at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, Nova Scotia, which features prominently in Sandra’s book. It was especially meaningful to be at Bishop’s childhood home for the launch.
Sue Goyette’s latest poetry collection, outskirts, is simply beautiful, and familiar in its subject matter. I’ve spent some time pondering “Snow Day (#14)”, with its punchy rhythm, young-mother urgency and particularly the image of “…a hydrangea of soap bubbles disappear down the drain.”
Sue’s launch, held at a funky night club, was a community affair. Friends and family read from the collection to an enthusiastic crowd, and we all took away with us (besides our copies of the book) a sense of belonging and “an open heart,” as suggested by Sue Goyette, herself.
Our poets have been quietly going about the business of observing and interpreting the world for us for thousands of years; the least we can do is look at how they’ve done it and what they’ve written. Sandra Barry’s and Sue Goyette’s latest books are well worth Dear Reader’s time.