CARIBOU RIVER – It’s been years in the making, but Rita Wilson’s debut into book publishing is finally happening.
Wilson, who lives in Caribou River, is launching her new children’s book ‘A Pocket of Time – A poetic childhood of Elizabeth Bishop’ next month. The book shares the story of Elizabeth Bishop’s childhood, inspired by Bishop’s own words, as she grew up in Great Village.
“I have always read widely, and there was a talk in Great Village about Sable Island,” said Wilson, adding the talk was held at the Bishop house, which was owned by Elizabeth’s grandparents. “I went knowing nothing about Elizabeth Bishop.”
It was at this talk that Wilson questioned how she didn’t know about the well-known poet. A couple months later, Wilson returned with her daughter for a talk about Bishop herself.
That’s when the idea sparked about the book.
“It seemed like the house in Great Village was the perfect frame, and children were the perfect audience,” said Wilson.
Throughout the years, the author returned to the Bishop House a number of times as an artist-in-residence for a week at a time.
“I read Bishop, I immersed myself in Bishop,” she said.
Over the course of the last two years, Wilson had been sending her book to publishers, with the help of Sheree Fitch, and was successful in having Nimbus Publishing pick up the opportunity. Wilson has had poetry published prior to, but this is the first time working on a book.
The hardest part, she said, was paring the content down.
“I had the idea to write the book using my own narrative line that carried you through the house,” she said. But there was so much of Bishop’s own prose and poetry of the home Wilson wanted to include, so she had to make decisions.
“Bishop’s a really important poet,” said Wilson, about the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner. “She published about 100 poems when she was alive, but she’s become increasingly well-known, being written about as time goes by.
“She was a poet who took such great care of words. She was so precise and took the time to write. Poetry is a whole new way to see the world, and she does that.”
She said she also chose Bishop as her first foray into books because of her connection to Nova Scotia, and especially to Great Village.
“Great Village to her was a home. She kept coming back. It was her sense of home, and it was one of the important places in her life,” Wilson said.
Emma Fitzgerald illustrated ‘A Pocket of Time.’ Fitzgerald’s work can also be found in Fitch’s ‘Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street’.
“Emma is also a lover of Bishop, and is so knowledgeable about Bishop,” said Wilson. “Her illustrations go beyond the text.”
Wilson’s ‘A Pocket of Time’ will be launched on Dec. 5 at the Fraser Cultural Centre in Tatamagouche at 3 p.m. Wilson and Fitzgerald will both be on hand. Along with a reading, the launch will also feature drawing activities for children and a showing of Fitzgerald’s work.
A launch will also be held at the Halifax Central Library, 1-2 p.m., on Dec. 7.
Wilson will be at Masstown Market on Dec. 8, 10-11:30 a.m., for a book signing, and a launch will also be held at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, 2-4 p.m., on Dec. 8.
The book will be available in libraries and stores, as well as Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery.