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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Read a banned book…and a thumbs up for my town

Rudyvallee with hornbanned books

Rudy Vallee of Westbrook photo

This is Banned Books Week, a time when it’s always good to reflect on censorship and how important it is to defend our First Amendment rights. The list of books banned in the past (and the present, in some backward places) invites disbelief. Gone With the Wind? Huckleberry Finn? The Color Purple?

This has nothing to do with books or writing, but I’d like to plug the town I live in, Westbrook, Maine, just five miles from Portland. I moved here more than 17 years ago and have become very fond of the place. It has good restaurants, a nice library, a fabulous art gallery, a community theater, an attractive River Walk and park downtown, and happens to have the largest movie theater in Maine, with 10 screens. The town government is sensible. We are conveniently near Portland, but enjoy small town life. The Maine Mall and airport and highways are all close but not too close.

The only famous person I know of from Westbrook is Rudy Vallee, who was a huge star in his day on the radio, in concert and in movies. The house where he lived is just around the corner from mine. He is buried in the peaceful, well-tended St. Hyacinth cemetery here in Westbrook. Did you know that he had a degree from Yale and was an accomplished songwriter and composer as well as performer?

Autumn in New England…and animal poetry

autumn leaves

Chandler with cat

Last night we had temperatures in the 30s, though my annuals didn’t die, so technically it wasn’t a frost here in Westbrook. At the risk of sounding corny/unoriginal, fall is my favorite season in New England (I’m not a fan of hot weather).

I’m working on a fun project compiling a second anthology of contemporary animal poetry. The first one, published in 2008, has sold well. All proceeds from that book go to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA), a private nonprofit mostly equine rescue organization in Windham, Maine. I volunteer for this excellent outfit. Check out the website at and if you can, visit their beautiful farm and see what extraordinary care the horses and other animals receive.

That’s a picture of Raymond Chandler that I found online. Photos of writers with beloved animals are so cool. Anyway, I have put the second anthology on hold for a bit while I wait to find out whether Moon Pie Press and MSSPA will receive some grant money we have applied for to publish and advertise the book. I hope you will consider buying the first anthology and the second one when it’s out, too. These books are good gifts for animal lovers and benefit rescued horses and other creatures.