Over the years, Elizabeth Smart’s 1945 novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept has risen from obscurity to cult classic. The book, which details an ill-fated love affair between an unnamed narrator and her married lover, is celebrated for its lyricism, passionate intensity, and its basis in Elizabeth’s real-life relationship with the poet George Barker. After publishing By Grand Central Station, Smart lapsed into a thirty-year creative silence during which time she worked as an advertising copywriter and single-parented four children. In this poetic reflection, Myra Bloom weaves together archival audio with first-person narration and interviews to examine both the great passion that fueled By Grand Central Station and the obstacles that prevented Elizabeth from recreating its brilliance.
Featured in this episode are Sina Queyras, a poet and teacher currently working on an academic project about Elizabeth; Maya Gallus, a celebrated documentarian whose first film, On the Side of the Angels, was about Elizabeth; Kim Echlin, author of Elizabeth Smart: A Fugue Essay on Women and Creativity; and Rosemary Sullivan, Elizabeth’s biographer.
This episode also features archival audio of Elizabeth in conversation at Memorial University (1983) and reading at Warwick University in England (1982).
Warwick Archive (2019, Nov). Elizabeth Smart – English Writers at Warwick Archive. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/writingprog/archive/writers/smartelizabeth/280182.
MUN Archive Video Collection. (pre 1994). Elizabeth Smart: Canadian Writer. http://collections.mun.ca/cdm/ref/collection/extension/id/2981.
All the music in this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions.