Posted in Creative writing, Poetry

Geography III: place, writing and maps

elizabethBishopAndHouseAt the end of last week, we decided to take a trip along the Parrsboro shore, primarily to check out the Fundy Geological Museum. On our way home, we stopped at Great Village, Nova Scotia. This community was of interest; it was the childhood home of the late poet, Elizabeth Bishop. On Friday afternoon, there was a poetry reading at St James Church; there was a self-guided tour of the village available; and one could see the Elizabeth Bishop House, now an artist’s retreat.

elizabethBishopinParisAt the church, I picked up a copy of the brochure Elizabeth Bishop’s Paris. This small brochure describes two visits to Paris in the mid-1930’s. Interestingly, it includes a map of central Paris, identifying locations visited by Bishop and Louise Crane. The map also shows the location of the first conference on Elizabeth Bishop in France. Elizabeth Bishop in Paris: Spaces of Translation and Translations of Space. 6-8 June 2018. The text was written by Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University.

A second publication, that I purchased, was Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. To celebrate the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011), the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) hosted a one-time short prose competition, asking participants to write about their own sense of place. There were five categories: Elementary (Grade 4-6), Junior High (Grade 7-9), Senior High (Grade 10-12), Post-secondary, Open (19 years or older). EBSNS published the winning entries, edited by Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn. The book was typeset and printed by Gaspereau Press.

EBSNS maintains a website and published an annual newsletter. On the website, under the Media tab, there is a podcast of Claire Miller reading In the Village.

Geography III was Bishop’s final book of poems, published in 1976. On his website, Michael Ollinger, Digging into the earth’s surface: pondering Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop states:

“To describe the planet aptly is one thing, but to understand one’s place is another one altogether. The poems of Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III go beyond mere description of the earth’s surface and delve into how geography defines not only where we are on the planet, but also who we are”.

” The phenomena of contextualizing  oneself in the world points to why Elizabeth Bishop may have chosen to title the collection Geography III as opposed to Geography I or Geography II; the geographies presented in the poems are more than just a description of the earth’s surface”

In my blog title, I have reinterpreted Geography III as “place, writing and maps“.

I hope you enjoy these links to the work of Elizabeth Bishop and appreciate the remarkable efforts of the EBSNS to connect her work to Great Village, Nova Scotia.

Thanks to Edward Wedler for the graphics, and Heather Stewart, my travel companion.

Postscript. The EBSNS is an excellent model for EBLES (Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society), of which, I am a Board member.


Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS)

Elizabeth Bishop. 1976. Geography III. Farrah, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Elizabeth Bishop’s Paris. 2018. Brochure. Text by Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University.

Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn (eds.) 2013. Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. Published by EBSNS, Great Village, NS.

Michael Ollinger  Digging into the earth’s surface: pondering Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop. Posted March25, 2009. Check the Poetry tab at



2 thoughts on “Geography III: place, writing and maps

  1. Very interesting, Robert. (Our paths sort of crossed in recent days.) I think Sandra Barry was at one or both of our EBLES events. Looking forward to our Lunns Mill meeting. Jane

    Sent from my iPad



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