PERSONAL: Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Education: Graduate of Trent University, 1979; studied French in Aix-en-Provence, France; Université de Sherbrooke, M.A., Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Broken Jaw Press, Box 596, Stn. A, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A6, Canada.
CAREER: Writer, translator, and editor.
Unitarian Fellowship, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, former children's religious education chair; Side by Side Festival Côte à Côte (annual), coordinator.
MEMBER: Literary Translators' Association of Canada (vice president).
AWARDS, HONORS: Governor General's Literary Award for Translation, finalist, 2003, for Tales from Dog Island: St. Pierre et Miquelon; David Adams Richards Prize, for Postcards from Ex-Lovers.
(Editor, with Colin O'Connell) Voices and Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality (collection), Wilfrid Laurier University Press (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
Postcards from Ex-Lovers (stories), Broken Jaw Press (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 2005.
Editor of Ellipse (literary journal).
(And editor, with Fred Cogswell) Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie, Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1990.
(With Fred Cogswell) Herménégilde Chiasson, Climates (poems), Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1999.
(With Fred Cogswell) Herménégilde Chiasson, Conversations, Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 2001.
Gérald Leblanc, Moncton Mantra, Guernica Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Françoise Enguehard, Tales from Dog Island: St. Pierre et Miquelon (translation of Litanies de l'Îleaux-Chiens), Killick Press (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada), 2002.
Lynn Diamond, The Past at Our Feet (translation of Passé sous nos pas), Guernica Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian writer and editor Jo-Anne Elder is the translator of a number of volumes from French to English. They include Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie, an anthology that celebrates two decades of Acadian poetry. Primarily French Acadian settlers migrated to Canada, and particularly to New Brunswick, in the seventeenth century. Other destinations included Louisiana. Elder and Fred Cogswell introduce the seldom-translated works of Canadian Acadians, which range in style and emphasize the origins of the poets, as well as their relationships with their Anglophone neighbors. In her review for the University of Toronto Quarterly, Jane Koustas quoted Raoul Boudreau's comments in his preface to the collection: "Acadians welcome their privileged position in North America as a way of distinguishing themselves from European 'Frenchness.' Acadians thus use their Frenchness to resist America and use their 'Americanness' to resist the hegemony of French culture."
Elder and Cogswell have translated works by Herménégilde Chiasson, including Climates and Conversations. A playwright, poet, filmmaker, and visual artist, Chiasson has been prominent in Acadian arts since the 1970s and her work reflects the Acadian history. In Climates, her poems speak through the variable New Brunswick weather. University of Toronto Quarterly contributor Koustas noted that "Elder and Cogswell capture the haunting, carefully wrought verse and prose passages of the original while preserving their musicality."
Elder is editor, with Colin O'Connell, of Voices and Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality, a collection featuring the work of approximately fifty contributors. The volume's stories, poetry, parables, legends, and myths, described as "impressive" by reviewer Lynn Szabo in the Canadian Book Review Annual. Szabo quoted Elder's assertions that the spirituality found in the book's entries is "the lived experience of religion or belief and the deeper meaning of everyday experience." Magdalene Redekop noted in the Toronto University Quarterly that the editors suggested a topic list when they released a call for submissions to the book and that the subject of abuse was not on the list. According to Elder, however, abuse was a frequent theme in the submissions. Redekop felt that "it is to her [Elder's] credit that she does not turn a deaf ear but struggles, instead, to take them in."
Sharon Chisvin wrote in Herizons that, with the exception of Marguerite Anderson's story, "Gifts," Voices and Echoes includes little about mothering. "This collection speaks much more about fathers," said Chisvin, "specifically the negative experiences that led many of the women into their spiritual journeys of self-actualization and healing." Chisvin noted that the subjects that are covered "do reflect a broad range of spiritual experience: giving birth, dying, remembering and forgiving. This is a spirituality that comes from within, thriving in everyday lives and actions, and shaping who and what the contributors become."
Elder offers a collection of her own stories in Postcards from Ex-Lovers. Through her stories, she provided a contemporary look at disfunctional relationships and the women attempting to recover from them.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997, Lynn Szabo, review of Voices and Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality, p. 263.
Dalhousie Review, winter, 1991, Hans R. Runte, review of Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie, p. 520.
Herizons, spring, 1999, Sharon Chisvin, review of Voices and Echoes, p. 40.
University of Toronto Quarterly, fall, 1992, Jane Koustas, review of Unfinished Dreams, p. 116; winter, 1998, Magdalene Redekop, review of Voices and Echoes, p. 392; winter, 2000, Jane Koustas, review of Climates, p. 283.
Broken Jaw Press Web site, http://www.brokenjaw.com/ (May 7, 2005), "Jo-Anne Elder."