Electronic Literature Lo-fi Style: Where is it? What is it? How does it work?

Categories:  electronic literature, residency, workshop
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This informal information session and hands-on workshop led by current Struts Open Studio artist in residence J. R. Carpenter will offer an introduction to the hybrid genre of electronic literature. Using examples from her recent work, J.R. will show how to remix and recycle found code to create new stories, poems and animations. Participants will create a short fiction generator together. A list of links to venues, journals and galleries publishing and exhibiting electronic literature will be offered, for your future reading pleasure. No programming skills required! No special equipment necessary. Bring a laptop if you have one. Bring a pen. Bring a friend.

Electronic Literature Lo-fi Style

Thursday , June 16, 2011, 7PM FREE
Struts Gallery, 7 Lorne Street, Sackville, NB
http://strutsgallery.ca

J. R. Carpenter has been using the internet as a medium for the creation and dissemination of non-linear narratives since 1993. She also makes zines, novels, maps, walks, photographs and performances of various kinds. More information about her projects can be found on her website: http://luckysoap.com

Locating Struts Gallery: It’s Somewhere Near Sackville, New Brunswick, on the Tintemar River, in Arcadia, Nouvelle France

Categories:  residency, Writing Coastlines
Tags: , , , ,

In preparation for an upcoming five-week stint as artist-in-residence at Struts Gallery May 22 – June 25, 2011, I have been doing some remote location research. The noun location refers both to a physical place (site), and to the act of locating that place. The verb location refers to the identification or discovery a place or location. The location exists before it is located. The act of location sets, fixes and establishes the location’s position, which is to say, provides a context for place. Location may be assigned by measurement, by survey, by knowledge, or by opinion. I locate the following act of locating Struts Gallery within the discourse of residency. Because knowing where you’re going is not a prerequisite for travel. But knowing where you are arriving is helpful for staying.

Struts Gallery is located at 7 Lorne Street, Sackville, New Brunswick, the Maritimes, Atlantic Canada, Canada, North America, the Northern Hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere, the Western World, the G8, the G20, the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, the Universe, etc.

The town of Sackville is located in Westmorland County, on the southern part of the Isthmus of Chignecto, which joins the peninsula of Nova Scotia to mainland New Brunswick. Sackville was first known as Pre des Bourgs and the surrounding region as Beaubassin by the Acadians who settled there in 1672. Pre des Bourgs, Beaubassin, Acadie, Nouvelle France, the New World, the Earth (which is round), the Solar System (which revolves around the Sun), etc.

According to Wikipedia the Beaubassin seigneury, granted in 1684, was named after Michael Leneuf de Beaubassin the elder (1640–1705), an officer in the French Navy who seized three English vessels from Boston that were taking on coal at Cape Breton. Beaubassin is a place named after a person named after a place, a location located withing the discourse of residency. Cape Breton is a place named in passing. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, in a letter dated 8 July 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano “records the earliest geographical and topographical description of a continuous North Atlantic coast of America derived from a known exploration.” In the world map drawn by his brother Gerolamo da Verrazzano in 1529, the “land which the Britanni (Britons) found” is named Cape Breton.

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Gerolamo da Verrazzano, 1529, Vatican Museum. Photo: J. R. Carpenter, 2011

The naming of Cape Breton is relevant to the locating of Sackville because Sackville (Pres des Bourges) was once, and some would argue still is, in the heart of Acadie. According to Andrea di Robilant, the name Acadia may also be attributed to the Verrazzano brothers:

“Some linguists say the place name [Acadia] was derived from caddie/quoddie, a word used by native tribes to designate a fertile region. But others say it is not derived from a native term at all and that it was introduced into the language by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524: while sailing north of Chesapeake Bay, he called the coastal region Arcadia because it brought to his mind the pristine beauty of mythical Arcadia… Then the r was dropped when Verrazzano’s diaries were transcribed, and Arcadia because Acadia or Acadie, as the French possessions along the coast of Canada were known.”

Andrea di Robilant (2011) Venetian Navigators: The Voyages of the Zen Brothers to the Far North, London: Faber & Faber

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Girolamo Ruscelli, “Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino Tradotta di Greco nell’Idioma Volgare Italiano da Girolamo Ruscelli,” published in Venice in 1561.

Italian brothers sailing for France give an ancient Greek name for a mythological place to a coast seen from a ship. In this act they (re)locate a previously existing (and thus, presumably, previously named) location within the discourse of Nouvelle France. Variations of Verrazzano’s map were widely reproduced throughout the sixteenth century, with new place names added as they were discovered and altered as territorial ambitions grew. By the sixth edition of Ruscelli’s Geografia, published in 1598, Nova Francia has been clearly etched in above larcadia, though the first permanent French settlement in North America was not founded by Champlain and Des Monts until six years later.

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Girolamo Ruscelli, “Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino Tradotta di Greco nell’Idioma Volgare Italiano da Girolamo Ruscelli,” published in Venice in 1598.

The French settlement at Port Royal was much further north than the stretch of coast the Verrazzano brothers had likened to Arcadia. Yet throughout the Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, published 1612, the name La Cadie is loosely used to refer to any French territory, most of which were also “fertile regions” – in the summer, at least.

“De Monts had obtained from Henry IV., though contrary to the advice of his most influential minister, a charter constituting him the king’s lieutenant in La Cadie, with all necessary and desirable powers for a colonial settlement. The grant included the whole territory lying between the 4Oth and 46th degrees of north latitude. Its southern boundary was on a parallel of Philadelphia, while its northern was on a line extended due west from the most easterly point of the Island of Cape Breton, cutting New Brunswick on a parallel near Fredericton, and Canada near the junction of the river Richelieu and the St. Lawrence.”

Samuel de Champlain, Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, Vol. 1: 1567-1635, translated from French by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D., Boston, November 10, 1880

Could Sackville be said to have roots in Arcadia? It is hard to say. The concept of Arcadia has always been a shifting one. The people who come to settle in La Cadie – a place named after another place named after a mythological place – become a people of La Cadie by dint of their residency in it. I will not become an Acadian by dint of a five-week stint as artist-in-residence at Struts Gallery. When the British expelled the Acadians from Acadie in 1755, their name became their nation and travelled with them. The meaning of all the named locations left behind changed.

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The Acadia movie theatre in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, home of Acadia University,formerly, my home town. J. R. Carpenter, 2008.

The region formerly known as Beaubassin is now called Tantramar. Sackville, New Brunswick, is located on a tributary of the Tantramar River, which feeds the Tantramar Marsh, which spreads inland from the Bay of Fundy for 10 kilometres. On a chart in Joseph Des Barres’s Atlantic Neptune, published 1776, the Tantramar River is called the Tintamar. Tintamar is a Spanish word, meaning red sea. A Spanish name makes no sense given the history of this place. But the name Red Sea does. The Tantramar River flows into the Cumberland Basin which flows into Chignecto Bay which in turn flows into the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. When the tide goes out, it goes way out and keeps on going. It leaves behind salt marsh, salt hay thriving in hard, rich, sticky, red soil, and beyond that, red mud flats glistening mile after mile.

Elisabeth Bishop describes a similar scene in her 1953 short story, In the Village. The village in question is Great Village, Nova Scotia, 100 kilometres south of Sackville, New Brunswick. The Great Village river flows into Cobequid Bay, which empties into Minas Basin which meets up with Chignecto Bay in the Bay of Fundy.

“There are the tops of all the elm trees in the village and there, beyond them, the long green marshes, so fresh, so salt. The the Minas Basin, with the tide halfway in or out, the wet red mud glazed with sky blue until it meets the creeping lavender-red water… W are in the “Maritimes” but all that means is that we live by the sea.”

Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Village,” The Collected Prose, FSG, page 264.

Sitting in the British Library, in far away London, poring over massive first edition volumes of Des Barres’s Atlantic Neptune, it is possible to entertain for a moment the idea that the name Tantramar is derived from the Spanish word Tintamar, assigned to that red mud glazed with sky by a cartographer of Spanish origin perhaps, or one who had previously written the coastlines of Spanish dominions.

More mundane research methods return equally fanciful results. Tintamar was most likely a miss-hearing. According to Wikipedia, the name Tantramar is derived from the Acadian French tintamarre, meaning ‘din’ or ‘racket’, a reference to the noisy flocks of birds which feed there. The marshes are an important stopover for migrating waterfowl such as semi-palmated Sandpipers and Canada Geese. Today the marshes are the site of two bird sanctuaries.

A walkway wending through the waterfowl sanctuary in the Tantramar Marsh near Struts Gallery, Sackville, New Brunswick, Acadia, Arcadia, Nova Francia. Photo: J. R. Carpenter, 2009

So far all my research suggests that Struts is located at the end of this walkway and the best way to get there is to walk this way.

On the Internet, Struts is located at: http://www.strutsgallery.ca/

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge Residency at The Banff Centre

Categories:  Banff, performance, residency
Tags: , , ,

It’s plus 12 degrees Celsius in south west England. Snow drops in blossom in the glade along the drive. Lambs frolicking in green fields. And I’m preparing to depart for Banff, Alberta where the high today was minus 14 and the white is not blossom but snow. Why? Why, for the love of literature of course. And, for the love of mountains.

I’m thrilled to be returning to Banff once again, this time to serve as faculty for In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge, an new residency offered by Literary Arts at The Banff Centre February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011.

Faculty:
Fred Wah – collaboration and hybridity
J. R. Carpenter – digital literature
Lance Olsen – new narrative

Guest Speakers:
Oana Avasilichioaei
Debra Di Blasi
Erin Moure
Darren Wershler

I’ll be performing along side Darren Wershler and Lance Olsen at The Club, Theatre Complex at The Banff Centre Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 7:30 pm. [more info]

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In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge: a residency program specializing in new writing practices at The Banff Centre

Categories:  Banff, electronic literature, poetry, residency, writing
Tags: , , , ,

I am thrilled to announce, support, facilitate, encourage applications to and endorse in every way this ground-breaking new residency program offered by The Banff Centre. In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge offers a rare opportunity to writers specializing in new writing practices, including digital literature, collaboration, hybridity and new narrative to meet each other, to exchange ideas and influences across genre boundaries and to research and develop new and ongoing work.

In(ter)ventions Residency

This residency emerges from and aims to build upon the many conversations, connections, debates, exchanges, challenges and questions raised at In(ter)ventions — Literary Practice At The Edge: A Gathering held at The Banff Centre in February 2010. I had the great good fortune to be involved in the planning of that event. In December 2008, Steven Ross Smith – Director of Literary Arts at The Banff Centre – invited Marjorie Perloff, Lance Olsen, Fred Wah and me to Banff for a three-day think tank on bringing new practices to the the Literary Arts program. The incredible diversity of practice, knowledge and experience at that table was both humbling and exhilarating. It has been wonderful watching the many names, works, issues and ideas from a vast array of literary practices we discussed coalesce into, first, a dreamboat conference agenda and now, this new residency.

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge is accepting applications until November 15, 2010. The program will run from February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011. Successful applicants will receive up to %60 funding. Technological, reflective, and collective resources will be available as needed. Guest speakers will be presented. Resident writers will work with faculty to develop new or current work.

Faculty: Fred Wah – collaboration and hybridity, J. R. Carpenter – digital literature, Lance Olsen – new narrative

Guest speakers: Debra Di Blasi, Darren Wershler, Erin Moure and Oana Avasilichioae

Application deadline: November 15, 2010
Program dates: February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011
Participants should plan to arrive in Banff on Sunday, February 13, 2011, and depart on Sunday, February 27, 2011.
For more information and to apply: In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge

Darting Stories Remix

Categories:  electronic literature
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As E-Writer-in-Residence at Dartington College, in Devon, England, this fall, I led a workshop on electronic literature with a concentration on literary mapping with first year Performance Writing Students. Over the course of the workshop students generated short texts for zines, postcards, epitaphs, blog posts and web maps. Though written separately, these texts explored common themes of place, mapping, the River Dart, Dartington and the past occupants (fictional or otherwise) of Dartington Hall. The workshop exercises and the texts they produced are archived on a group blog: Darting Blog. These texts are presented collectively as a final project on a Google Map: DARTING: A Collective Story Map

The last session of the workshop focused on remixing. I created a Darting Stories Remix by taking sentences from the various (and varied) texts archived on the Darting Blog and fed them into one of Nick Montfort’s Python story generators. I had used this same method earlier in the year to create Excerpts from the Chronicles of Pookie and JR.

For the purposes of this Darting Stories Remix, I shortened some of the sentences or selected excerpts from longer sentences to fit into the Python story generator format, and changed them all into the present tense and first person. Otherwise, these remain sentences written separately by separate authors remixed by a Python script to make collectively authored stories.

To read the Darting Stories Remix, download this file to your desktop and unzip: Darting.py On a Mac or Linux system, you can run the story generator by opening a Terminal Window, typing “cd Desktop”, and typing “python Darting.py”. Hint: look for Terminal in your Utilities folder. This Python story generator runs on Windows, too, but you will probably need to install Python first: version 2.6. Once Python is installed you can double click on the file and it will automatically launch and run in the terminal window. Every time you press Return a new version of the story will appear. For example:

Here are a few more examples of stories generated by this script:

Darting Stories:
How do I write an epitaph about myself in the first person?.
Through the depths of the water I reflect far and wide.
Hadrian’s Wall might have mostly come down, but it’s there in spirit.
Mad, that’s what they call me.
I crave little more than my freedom, my air, and my land.
I will walk directionless, till the unknown end.
Striving to connect with something natural.
To be continued…

Darting Stories:
At the start, I look for the lights.
What do names matter when worlds whirl together?.
I don’t live in a house, where they could watch me.
I live along the Dart but not around the towns where they patrol.
I pass out in the dirt-floored cellar most nights.
Sunlight barely reaches the stone floor.
I am a fervent keeper of horses, ponies and barns.
Websta’s brother died in the Dart. Had his throat slit.
The sea is a place I understand is rather nice.
Introvert, extravert, ingreen.
This the most achingly beautiful place to come across a little death.
To be continued…

Darting Stories:
Stories run off the Moor with it’s river waters.
I stride up hill holding hands with a friend named for the greatest flower.
William, sweet or otherwise, has never been my name.
I scare their dogs by trying to speak with them in their own language.
Graceless truths of tears clutch at the mirage in my room.
The ponies look more listless and less majestic.
It gets so muddy here; no wonder all the cows around here are brown.
The wind gives the landscape something of a facial peel.
Splash water into mud, trip me.
Smouldering timber and melancholy permeate my lungs. I stick to the path.
This the most achingly beautiful place to come across a little death.
To be continued…

Darting Stories:
On this hill the world as we know it collided.
Intoxicating tongues speak of Giants, Merlins, Padfoots and Beasts.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s accounts are unfounded, possibly fabricated.
The clay on the wheel beneath my fingers, whirling a world on its axis.
William, sweet or otherwise, has never been my name.
I crave little more than my freedom, my air, and my land.
I don’t live in a house, where they could watch me.
I live along the Dart but not around the towns where they patrol.
I will walk directionless, till the unknown end.
I am a fervent keeper of horses, ponies and barns.
To be continued…

Darting Stories:
Stories run off the Moor with it’s river waters.
I will walk directionless, till the unknown end.
Fear and bliss live with me and the room contains me.
Websta’s brother died in the Dart. Had his throat slit.
Black looms in the distance, the air thick with distaste.
The Waters of the Dart run across stones fallen from foreign clouds.
Map the most important places around the River Dart.
Exmoor, outmore, out the door, more doors.
More floor, less flaws, less cause, pour, pore, sweat, regret.
Skip over Kandinsky pavement, follow the water.
Flotsam on a tidal river is a strange mixture of oak leaves and seaweed.
To be continued…
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E-Writer in Residence, Dartington Campus, UCF

Categories:  electronic literature, reading
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This fall I am the Performance Writing E-Writer in Residence at University College Falmouth’s Dartington Campus, located on the Dartington Hall Estate, a 1,200 acre mixture of arable and pastoral farmland, woodland, residential and commercial accommodation. Written records of this site do not begin until the thirteenth century, but there is evidence of considerable activity in the area during the Roman occupation and the manor of Dartington is mentioned in a Royal Charter of 833 AD. The buildings and structures situated on the estate range in age from Deer Park Wall and Earth Works at North Wood which date from the Bronze and Iron Ages, to the main Hall which was built in 1388, to those properties which were built by the Elmhirsts in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The site has been continuously occupied for well over a thousand years, but this is the last year that Performance Writing will be located here, so I feel most fortunate to be here at this time.

My duties at E-Writer in Residence mostly involve sitting in my office, working on my work. The above photo is not a view from my office, thankfully, or I’d be too busy staring out the window to get any work done. One of my favourite things about the campus is how, to get from one side of it to the other, you have to walk across part of a cow pasture with actual cow pats in it (not pictured). I do this sometimes just to go to the library to visit the copy of my novel that they have there. I’m also leading an electronic literature workshop with the Performance Writing undergraduates, with a concentration on literary mapping. And I’ll do a public reading on the Dartington Campus Thursday 3 December, 7.30pm in Studio 3 (free). This will be the last in a series of three performances dedicated to readings featuring innovative and dynamic writers. For more information on this event, visit The Arts at Dartington.
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privacy being of the utmost importance

Categories:  reading, residency, Yaddo
Tags: ,

I wonder if Jonathan Ames is any relation to Elizabeth Ames, first Executive Director of Yaddo, who’s house I’m living in at the moment. Jonathan Ames’s novel, Wake Up, Sir! is set at an artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. He calls his not even thinly disguised Yaddo The Rose Colony. Katrina Trask loved roses, as manifest in rose colours, carvings, windows and sconces all over the mansion, and, of course, Yaddo’s famous rose gardens, open to the public in season.

“The track and the colony were on Union Avenue, and separating the two was a stretch of dense forest, and in the middle of these woods was the rather secretive entrance to the Rose, privacy being of the utmost importance for artists, since you don’t want the tax-paying public to know about the creative process – how much napping and procrastinating are involved – because otherwise what little funding there is would be cut immediately.” Jonathan Ames, Wake Up, Sir!

Apparently the entrance to Yaddo was originally just south of the track on Nelson Ave. It’s now east of the track on Union. Opps! Pay no attention, tax-paying public. You didn’t hear that from me.


. . . . .

frozen in time

Categories:  residency, Yaddo
Tags: ,

We were given a tour of the Yaddo mansion yesterday. It’s closed in the winter, mostly because it’s impossible to heat. We tramped through the great hall, the dining hall, the few fabulous rooms, and the plethora of servants quarters, where most of the writers are housed. The beds wrapped in ghostly plastic, our high-spirited pretend-haunted voices echoing down the empty corridors, our breath chasing, gauzy white as one of Katrina Trask’s gowns; all fifty-five rooms frozen in time, we were just plain frozen.

“One can imagine the whole scene; the chill in the countless rooms, the dry fountain in the atrium, the baptismal fonts and the throne chairs covered with sheets.” John Cheever, A Century At Yaddo

Whenever I quote Cheever on Yaddo I feel compelled to balance things out with a word from my friend Camilo, a past guest of Yaddo, who may well terminate our correspondence once he figures out that I’m pillaging his old emails for raw material. I can’t resist. Camilo, like me, is not an American and his descriptions share some of my semi-detached pot-colonial train-wreck fascination with the American Empire:

“The mansion itself, which we visited today, is an impressive scenario of ghostly splendour and opulence. It is a most intriguing and enticing space, tinged with history and everywhere you turn there is another famous name. The people who come here are the cultural “over-achievers” of this country and you hear places like Yale and Harvard being thrown around, but really a good and affable environment, where you meet wonderful people and put on the pounds like a criminal.”

Speaking of over-achievers, here is Flannery O’Connor circa 1948 in Katrina Trask’s “Tower Room” which many people think of as Truman Capote’s room. I was in it yesterday (see above photo) but no-one calls it J. R. Carpenter’s room.

To review the Yaddo pre-history: After fighting in the American Revolutionary War Battle of Saratoga Campaign in 1777, Jacobus Barhyte builds a tavern on this site and runs it successfully for the rest of his life. The Barhytes are buried on the grounds. 1856, Dr. Richard S. Childs moves the tavern and builds and ornate Italianate Late Victorian Queen Anne Villa on the site. By 1871 he’s in financial ruin and the villa sits abandoned for ten years. 1881, the Trasks rent the Childs place for a summer get-away. In her Chronicles of Yaddo our benefactress Katrina Trask writes:

“One morning in the late autumn of 1881, I sat in the desolate hall of the hideous old house which we had rented and occupied for five months… It mattered not at all that there were no comforts, not even running water; that the broken locks, open doors and every possible inconvenience tried our patience – if we allowed ourselves to think about them; all that was but as the dust of a high mountain road…”

Katrina’s longwinded, for a poet, but you get the idea: it was a hideous house. It burned down in 1891. An accident? Or a stroke of luck… Either way, the Trasks rebuilt immediately, completing the present mansion in 1893. The fireplace in the great hall sports a Tiffany mosaic of a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The Latin inscription reads:

flammis invicta per ignem Yaddo ad resurgo pacem

Our mansion, as I like to think of the present house, was modeled on Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. One problem with building an Elizabethan English country house in upstate New York is how much colder it is here. And hotter! In the summer, writers toil away to the whirr of electric fans like in the olden days, or, like how we do in Montreal, without any air conditioning.

I doubt I’m cut out for the social strain of a high summer season stay in the mansion, but I know I’ll apply one day. I’m just too curious a person. No matter how small a garret I am granted, no matter how loud it is, no matter how hot the days and bat infested and debauched the nights, and no matter little work I get done, I’d like join the fray just once so I can write about it after. I’m sure there’s a story lurking in every corner. Take this still life, for example. At least a thousand words.

. . . . .

postcards from yaddo

Categories:  Yaddo
Tags: ,

I read about this thing on the Internet where people take days off. The week ends, apparently, and the people just stop working. Sounds crazy, but I thought I’d give it a try. Since I got here I’ve been working on a series of very short stories. Very short stories are sometimes called postcard stories. So I took the day off today and wrote postcards. Nine of them. All bearing the same picture…

The Yaddo Mansion, of course. All the postcards for sale in the Yaddo office are in black and white. Black and white makes everything look older. Especially old stuff. Sepia makes old looking old stuff look even older.

This look isn’t for everyone. I hope Yaddo sold colour postcards back when Elizabeth Bishop was a guest here.

“Postcards come from another world, the world of the grandparents who send things, the world of sad brown perfume, and morning. (The gray postcards of the village for sale in the village store are so unilluminating that they scarcely count. After all, one steps outside and immediately sees the same thing: the village, where we live, full size, and in color.)”

Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Village,” Questions of Travel, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965, page 52.

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Pine Garde

Categories:  Yaddo
Tags: ,

Yaddo has always been called Yaddo. Well, ever since our benefactress Katrina Trask asked her four-year-old daughter: “What shall we name the place, Cuckoo?” And she said: “Call it ‘Yaddo,’ for it makes poetry! Yaddo, shadow – shadow, Yaddo!” That was in the 1880s. The Corporation of Yaddo was founded in 1900, but it was called Pine Garde until the spring of 1922, that is, until both the founders, Spencer and Katrina Trask, had passed away. In the fall of 1923 Elizabeth Ames was named Executive Director. She set to work preparing the mansion and estate for its first artist guests. Yaddo as we know it today opened its doors in June 1926. Elizabeth Ames lived in the mansion during guest-season and in town the rest of the year until April 1928 when a house was built for her on the grounds. They named it Pine Garde after the original title of the Corporation of Yaddo. It’s my house now, for a little while anyway. That sun porch… that’s my studio. Pas mal, pas mal du tout.


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