Remembering Elizabeth Bishop helps Great Village connect with its history

Monique Chiasson
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GREAT VILLAGE - It's easy to take things for granted, including the importance of a community.
Great Village's Terry Francis is bucking that trend and learning more about the village's history. For example, she once spoke to a lady from Texas who was collecting pictures to take back to her students to help them learn about Elizabeth Bishop, a famous poet who briefly lived in Great Village.
"This village has more impact on other countries than we realize and that's why we are celebrating," Francis said Saturday.
The community held its second annual Brazil in Great Village event, celebrating Bishop's connection to the area. Bishop was born in Massachusetts but the village had such a profound affect on her she often wrote about it, even when living in Brazil. She died at the age of 68 in 1979.
Saturday's festivities included walking tours, readings, Brazilian music, artwork by Great Village Elementary School children, dance and food.
Francis helped serve about 25 people who attended a Brazilian themed dinner featuring black bean soup, pumpkin soup, sweet potato rolls, corn meal muffins and corn chowder.
"There is a fondness of Elizabeth Bishop here ... her connection to the area helps us appreciate (our history)," she said.
Truro's Laurie Gunn is on the board of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. She was one of about 25 people who listened to an afternoon of readings from Bishop's personal letters and poetry.
"Hearing it makes her poetry come alive. This place should be packed ... this is our culture and history," said Gunn.
She said the event reminds people that Great Village has a special place in literary history and that is something to cherish.
"We are trying to reclaim her as a Nova Scotia poet because she was so good. I'm proud to be a Nova Scotian."
John Barnstead travelled from Bedford to do the readings. Barnstead fell in love with Bishop's work long ago.
Those in attendance listened closely as he read from Bishop's stories of her
travels into Brazil and her love of Great Village. Interspersed with the readings were music and sound effects to bring the literary pieces to life.
"I just let her words do the work ... it was an enormously good feeling to present it to them," said Barnstead.
Organizers will plan festivities for upcoming years and hope more people attend the events.

Organizations: Great Village Elementary School, Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Great Village, Brazil, Texas Massachusetts Nova Scotia Bedford

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