Cape Breton-born Kavanagh excels as a writer and visual artist


SYDNEY, NS – While many of us struggle to become proficient in one discipline, Basma Kavanagh is one of those rare people who excels in two disciplines.

“I’ve always had this inclination,” said the artist who also writes. “I feel like they’re all connected, but sometimes I find that I tend to focus on one thing for a while. It could be a period of months or years, then something else for a while. They all feed on each other and they are definitely connected. It takes time to master something. It can be difficult to juggle them because I find that in order to stay up to date and be proficient you have to give it time so it can be crazy juggling and sometimes I think, why wouldn’t I choose one?

“But I can not.”


Kavanagh was recently named to the 2021 CBC Nonfiction Award long list for her essay “Bone Shadows,” which reflects the many forms of mourning in the years following her father’s death. Although she did not win, it is still national recognition for her writing which also includes three books of poetry, “Distillo”, “Niche” and “Ruba’iyat for the time of apricots”.

“I was surprised but delighted,” Kavanagh said from her home in Canning, Kings County. “It’s a bit like peer recognition.

“I think working in rural Nova Scotia and being a writer can be quite isolating and so it’s something that people will hear about my work… it’s a great way to connect with a lot of people. . “

These are the three books of Basma Kavanagh. She also designed and painted the covers for “Distillo” and “Ruba’iyat for the Time of Apricots”. Contributed – Contributed

Although she is increasingly well known in the Canadian literary world, thanks to a multitude of nominations, the Westmount native is perhaps equally well known for her art.

She works in a variety of media, including acrylic, egg tempera, mixed media, paints and watercolors as well as sculpture and textiles. Its subject tends to be natural subjects such as trees and plants. She also designs and prints her own art books.

“I do a lot of artist books and so with these I can kind of be responsible for their look and design – the imagery, the text – so it’s a place where I have control. , but often in editing, sometimes there is flexibility but sometimes it’s just a question of text so there isn’t a lot of room for the visuals.

Despite this, she still managed to design the covers of her first and third books, “Distillo” and “Ruba’iyat for the Time of Apricots”.

Kavanagh has lived in various parts of Canada, sometimes moving for a job, but she is now working full time on her art in Canning. She isn’t returning to Cape Breton as much as she used to, but that can be blamed on COVID restrictions over the past two years. She used Lockdown Time for further inspiration and the resulting art will be released at a later date.

Currently, Kavanagh is working on a book of essays and there are plans for another book of poetry in the future.

Elizabeth Patterson is a cultural reporter for the Cape Breton Post.

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