PEI-Tasmania collaboration world premiere: Atlantic String Machine, with guest Hannah O’Donnell, performs song cycle by Tasmania’s Don Kay and PEI’s Laurie Brinklow

Charlottetown, PEI (May 4, 2023) —

Four poems from Laurie Brinklow’s PEI Book Award-winning poetry My island’s the house I sleep in at night (Island Studies Press/Walleah Press) have been set to music by one of Tasmania’s best-loved composers Don Kay.

Now, Prince Edward Island’s award-winning string quintet, Atlantic String Machine, with guest soloist Hannah O’Donnell, will perform the song cycle’s world premiere on Saturday, May 13, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. in Charlottetown as part of the final concert of their 2022-23 season entitled “Coming Together.”

Kay and Brinklow connected when the writer’s Island Studies PhD research brought her to Tasmania. As part of her program, she interviewed the composer and wrote a poem for him based on the interview. Kay then took “So it begins at Hastings Bay,” plus three more of the Tasmanian poems, and created a song cycle for mezzo soprano and string quintet. Kay has composed works for opera and theatre, symphony orchestra, and choirs that have been performed around the world. In 1991, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the arts. He is now retired from a post at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music.

Says Brinklow, “I’m absolutely thrilled that this island-to-island collaboration is coming to the world stage. It demonstrates the cyclical nature of art, and how inspiration works, with Don describing to me how he writes music from nature, then me putting it into words, then Don writing music based on what I wrote, then my ASM friend and Hannah interpreting his score. It’s pure magic. And having Atlantic String Machine do the world premiere here is a dream come true.”

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite, or at the door.

Media contact:
Bren Simmers Island Studies Press

NEWS: “Who’s your mother? Bringing Women’s work to the fore on Prince Edward Island” – Panel presentations at the 5th International St. Magnus Conference, April 2021

April 12, 2021—

The Institute for Northern Studies at the University of Highland and Islands will be hosting the 5th International St. Magnus Conference from April 14–16, 2021. Originally scheduled to take place in Shetland in 2020, this three-day conference will be taking place virtually via Webex. This year’s theme is ‘Island Histories and Herstories’ and explores the contribution of women and men in island communities from before the Viking age to the present, revealing the experiences of island life through research and storytelling.

As part of this conference, there will be a PEI-focused panel session on Wednesday, April 14th, from 11:30am-1:00pm ADT (UTC-3), featuring Dr. Laurie Brinklow and MAIS student Marlene Chapman.


Who’s your mother? Bringing women’s work to the fore on Prince Edward Island

Ever since European immigrants chose to settle in Canada nearly four centuries ago, the economy of Atlantic Canada has been rooted in traditional ways of making a living: agriculture and the fishery. Prince Edward Island is no different, with its ‘islandness’ intensifying the social structure associated with each industry, resulting in conservative yet – seemingly paradoxically – cosmopolitan societies. Women have played fundamental roles in the types of work associated with these industries, often sharing responsibility or taking the lead out of necessity.
This panel takes its title from the common expression used when Prince Edward Islanders meet someone new – “Who’s your father?” – used to emplace you in the patrilineal “tribe” that is Prince Edward Island. We turn it on its head, documenting how PEI has often been at the forefront of what we now call ‘feminism’ in the fishery and the arts – and attributing much of this empowerment to the intensity that comes with island living. 

Presentation ABSTRACTS:

Raising the glass ceiling in the Prince Edward Island fisheries
Marlene Chapman

Lobster fisher and Master of Arts in Island Studies student, UPEI

In Prince Edward Island, interest in women’s roles in the fishing industry is rising like the tide. Already in 2019, an island fishing community instituted an annual award to recognise women, and the provincial government launched a survey to figure out how to reduce barriers in the industry for females. This paper looks at this changing role of women and wonders aloud what this might mean for sustainability of the island’s fisheries.

A photo of Laurie Brinklow smiling

Women making art on Prince Edward Island
Dr. Laurie Brinklow

Institute of Island Studies, UPEI

Recently the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, hosted an exhibition entitled ‘Who’s your mother? Women Artists of P.E.I., 1964 to the Present’, showcasing PEI women’s art and correcting a gap in the Centre’s acquisitions to better reflect today’s ‘artistic scene that by now arguably produces more female than male artists’. This paper asks the question: how has being ‘islanded’ affected women’s acceptance in a profession that was dominated by males on what has generally been considered a conservative island?

For more information about the 5th International St. Magnus Conference, the full program, and to register to attend, visit

COVID-19 ISLAND INSIGHTS SERIES: Iceland, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island

March 22, 2021 —
Iceland, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island

The latest installment of the COVID-19 Island Insights Series features insights from Iceland, Newfoundland & Labrador, and right here on Prince Edward Island and discusses how these island regions have responded to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the extent to which their recovery plans are able to promote long term resilience and sustainability.

Click here to read more

MAIS Thesis Defense: Ian McIsaac

March 8, 2021 —
Master of Arts in Island Studies student Ian McIsaac recently defended his thesis, “Factors influencing change in the Prince Edward Island Lobster Fishery” via Zoom. The session was recorded and is now available to stream on the Institute of Island Studies YouTube channel.

→ Watch now:

In 2015, the PEI Marketing Council created the Lobster Fishers of Prince Edward Island (LFPEI) Commodity Board after holding a plebiscite. Ian conducted research to better understand what factors led to the decision, and to discover if any aspect of islandness may have influenced this independent group of Island business men and women who compete with each other to catch the same fish.