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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Labor Day and lost literary opportunities

Truman Capote

Labor Day is significant in Maine – the tourists and summer people stream south and we year-round residents sigh in relief at getting our state back. The kids are back in school. I live very close to Westbrook High School, known for its marching band. In the end of August, the band starts practicing in the big parking lot in the evenings, and I hear it all. Because they are good, and these kids and teachers are dedicated, I rather like hearing them, and it’s always evocative of a new beginning in autumn. Fall is my favorite season in New England even though I admit that the coming winter brings a bit of dread.

This week we lost Seamus Heaney, a terrific poet. Many years ago when I was in college in Oregon I went to hear him read to a packed house. I was too shy to approach him. I’m not bragging, but I am related to Truman Capote, whose original name was Truman Streckfus Persons. I admire his writing but was too chicken to ever write him a fan letter, and I never met him. I regret this. Advice: tell writers you love their work. Get books signed. Writers never tire of hearing from fans, especially in person, and of course admiration means more to a non-famous person, like most poets!

Two anniversaries to celebrate

book cupcakes

hopper Two Lights painting

This month marks 30 years since I moved to Maine. In August 1983 I moved here from Boston to go to law school, and I’ve never left. I grew up in the Army and also moved around a lot as a young adult – attending college and grad school, for example, in California, Oregon and Wisconsin. I never thought I would stay in one place this long, but I feel very at home in Maine. I love the four seasons, the landscape, the ocean, the low crime and relative lack of traffic and congestion. And the people. So many creative and artistic types are Mainers or drawn to the state.
This month I am also celebrating ten years of Moon Pie Press, and the birth of 72 books of poetry. Last Saturday night we had a party, which included distinguished Moon Pie Press poets and supporters such as Bruce Spang, Mike Albert, Betsy Sholl, Baron Wormser, Steve Luttrell, Martin Steingesser, Marita O’Neill and Duff Plunkett, and many more. I enjoy finding and publishing quality poetry books so much. I hope to do it for at LEAST another ten years.
It has been a joy and a privilege to publish the fine work of so many poets from Maine and other places.

Solitude, society and writing

books,time photo
Recently I reread May Sarton’s wonderful JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE. I have a cheap old paperback of this book but I treasure it since Ms. Sarton signed it for me. Many years ago (early 1980s) I went to hear her read poetry in Boston and waited in line to get this signature, feeling very starstruck. I’ve lived alone for about 90 percent of my adult life, and I’m good at it. People who don’t like too much alone time tend to assume that solitary = lonely, but that’s not true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gregarious and sociable to a degree. I love my friends and family, but I also love living by myself for many reasons, not least of which is peaceful time to read and write. Many writers say that their ideas come to them in moments away from the clash (and flash and beep) of modern life. Some words from Sarton:

I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose–to find out what I think, to know where I stand. ..I hardly ever sit still without being haunted by the “undone” and the “unsent.” is the effort of pushing away the lives and needs of others before I can come to the work with any freshness and zest.

…the poem is primarily a dialogue with the self and the novel a dialogue with others. They come from entirely different modes of being. I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something.

Writers may not always need a “room of one’s own”, as Virginia Woolf famously described what women should have. But we do need to carve out a measure of solitude to take in others’ writing, to make room for ideas to come, and to do our own writing.

Maine’s own Stephen King and his astounding literary family

King, books T

King family

The New York Times magazine this week has a story on Stephen King and his family. This photo shows six King family members – FIVE of whom are successful novelists. What a fascinating bunch of people. King’s son, who writes under a nom de plume, went to great lengths NOT to have the advantages of being related to the one of the world’s best selling writers. I find this story so interesting on so many levels. I like the fact that Maine is known for the traditional tourist-y (but still wonderful) things like lobster, lighthouses, pine forests, moose, rugged islands, artists, POETS of course, and Stephen King. He continues to be so interested in reading, writing, popular culture and thinking about the world. He and his wife passed on the love of reading, writing and good storytelling in an old-fashioned manner that I fear is rare. Hats off to all the Kings !