Events overheard of & etc.
Working Waterfront: Agnes Bushell: Maine's best novelist you may
never have heard of.
Working Waterfront: Tom Sexton: a poet on the edges.
Working Waterfront: Tom Moore and the Midcoast school of
Working Waterfront: Homing in on Dave Morrison.
Portland Press Herald: Café Review marks 30 years of curating poetry
from around the world. The Portland City Council recognizes founder
Steve Luttrell with a proclamation honoring the 30th anniversary of the
Portland Press Herald: "The radical spirit of ’75 is alive and well with the
relaunch of Littoral Books" Littoral Books began in 1975 as a women’s
press, founded by self-described “radical feminists” of the gritty Portland
arts scene. Forty-three years later, they’re back. Co-founders Marcia
Brown and Agnes Bushell are at the helm of the press, along with
Bushell’s husband, Jim.
In Verse: Maine Places and People. Poems in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Edited by Dennis Camire
Deep Water: Maine poems in the Portland Press Herald. Edited by Gibson
Poems from Here with Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum, Fridays
on Maine Public Radio.
WERU 89.9 FM Writers Forum streaming archives.
20 Maine Poets Read and Discuss Their Work.
Recently made videos.
The Cafe Review
Maine's longest-running small magazine of poetry and reviews from
Maine poets and others
Beloit Poetry Journal
P.O. Box 1450, Windham, Maine, 04062.
Online journal of writings from Downeast Maine.
William Hathaway's Poetry Drawer. Not for the faint of art. "Given a
choice between lucky in love or with parking places, it’s startling how many
choose the latter."
The Ghost Story
Paul Guernsey's website of fiction, the paranormal, and well-paying
short story contests.
Reviews, essays, and features on poetry, literature, and the arts.
An interdisciplinary magazine of letters and art. Edited by Susann Cokal.
Poetry and books tracked in outback Maine
across the sound
the fractured liquid
of winter sea
low coming from
behind College Rock
black shags in
a gallery row
moves the others
i cannot stay them
from their course
stop & watch them
cross Hussey Sound
turn my back
as they pass the point
resounding from Overset
above the decoys
in december air
sun as cold
as an eider’s eye
Peter Kilgore was born, grew up and lived
most of his life in Portland, Maine. He died
in 1992 at the age of 52. This poem is from
a manuscript recently found among his
papers. Quarry: The Collected Poems of
Peter Kilgore is available from North
Country Press in Unity, Maine.
untitled (from "Island Poems")
By Peter Kilgore
poems by and/or reviews of poetry, fiction, novel, nonfiction, memoir:
Richard Grossinger - Pluto
Hearts in Suspension
Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Birth of the Imagination - William Carlos Williams
John Holt Willey
University of Maine Press
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
Simone Paradis Hanson
Summer to Fall
Lewis Turco - Enkidu
Burton Hatlen - Elegies and Valedictions
Caught - Glen Libby - Antonia Small
3 Nations Anthology
One Man's Maine
Tourists in the Known World
William Hathaway - Dawn Chorus
Michael Campagnoli - The Home Stretch
Dave Morrison Welcome Homesick
Brock Clarke - The Price of the Haircut
Paul Guernsey - American Ghost
Michelle Menting - Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karie Friedman - Add Water, Add Fire
Alan Lightman - Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
Christopher Fahy - Winterhill
Jefferson Navicky - Paper Coast - The Book of Transparencies
Mike Bove - Big Little City
Tom Sexton - Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home
Christopher Fahy - My Life in Water
Adam Tavel - Catafalque
Peter Kilgore - Quarry: The Collected Poems
Ned Balbo - 3 Nights of the Perseids
Jeff Shula - Fireside Chats
Mark Melnicove, Abby Shahn - Ghosts
John Rosenwald - The Feast of Steven
Jonathan Ward - Swallows in Late September
Linda Buckmaster - Space Heart
Elizabeth Tibbetts - Say What You Can
Carolyn Locke - Riddle of Yes
David Wallace-Wells - Uninhabitable Earth
Betsy Sholl - House of Sparrows
Surrounded by brick music, the sonic walls are designed
to be invisible. Cumberland Avenue, now bends in a
long arc, dreamed out of unturned stone, I’m on a bike
ride that returns to the point of departure. I would have
never guessed that, of all places, I would try to pedal
back to this. So many ends in the middle distance: a
walk around a dance; promenade west or east, a bay,
islands in the background; a reason to vanish, named
in a name like the oaks of Deering Oaks and gone, like
love as it ends or begins or curves on that long arc.
Jim Smethurst, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, is a professor
in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of African-American Studies at
By Jim Smethurst
head bent back from watching
circling raptors float above the river,
my focus gets scattered by mottled clouds
that cover the whole of the sky,
and then I find myself in prayer,
and then in poem
D.W. Brainerd lives on French Island, Old Town,
Maine. His self-made collections of poetry include
Under the Gold Sun and A Turn of the Wheel, and
his reviews of poetry have appeared in Small Press
By D.W. Brainerd
from my high Victorian window
I watch the snow fall
and think about the Queen Anne’s lace
primming the ancient rocks
the payphone in the old Port Hole
on which my best friend used to call me
as I sipped coffee in the briny
when Lance was the grill cool
and they served wonderful food,
as the cheerful yellow and white
ferries departed blasting
Portland with their song
the walls and windows
and hundreds of miles we’ve woven
into the brick streets
the city at night its spine a string of pearls
the dead pearl diver
safely embalmed in the museum
immune from time and memory
caresses and promises
that appear and disappear
in the waves of rain
tears and snow pounding pounding pounding
the shores of my aging heart.
Annie Seikonia is a lifelong resident of Portland, Maine.
(from "Four Songs of Portland," Cafe Review Winter 2017)
By Annie Seikonia
This city which I dreamt has become my labyrinth,
a challenge of grim streets, stolen sugar packets,
warm yellow cubicles of light, exotic prints framed in
antiquity, mannikins like pilgrims on strange and
otherworldly journeys. Drifting through oscillating
streets of whiskey and peaches beneath an obscene
painter's palette, vanishing in waterfront fog,
Portland suggests other cities, lives and destinies
glimpsed, imagined, dreamt, their fictions interwoven
with the gaily painted boats, the white nuns circling
overhead. A lone saxophone gives way to jazz from a bar
and primitive hypnotic beats from a passing car until
another lilac dusk returns just as a provocative piano tune
drifts down from a window somewhere behind the old stone church.
(from Fifty Portland Sonnets, 1994)
By Annie Seikonia
Fire is fire: fuel
and air, heat and light,
yet when you touch the
match to the kindling you
are creating a unique
event in all of history.
Dave Morrison lives in Camden, Maine. His most recent
collection is Refuge.
By Dave Morrison
"Although as written, the bill was never a discriminatory piece of legislation,
the aid was distributed unequally between the races from 1940–1960 [and
the Civil Rights movement]."
– Sophie Frey, “Black and White Veterans and the GI Bill”
History 90:01 Topics in Digital History
How could it be I wouldn’t learn of this guilt until 2020, this undeniable verdict,
until BLACK LIVES MATTER came flooding like George Floyd’s waters under
the knees of those four cops in Minneapolis? All this time wondering what specific
privilege I’m guilty of. Of not being Black, I know, but what else should I confess
growing up poor in outback Maine where class is race. Our worst diversity.
Born to The War, II, I was four when President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s
Readjustment Act, the first so-called “race-neutral” legislation for American vets.
The G. I. Bill (Galvanized Iron / Government Issue / General Issue / G.I. Joe).
Grew up revering it. My father’s reward for surviving combat, years of dive-
bombing kamikaze planes aimed to destroy the destroyer battle ships he served
as a sailor on. Ours for making it alone and his for coming home to us, shattered
eardrums and yet-to-be-named PTSD and all, to begin again. To start a better life
than he’d had as a kid, poor, upriver, with boots the right size for the first time
in the service.
Didn’t go for a college loan, didn’t care to. Had finished elementary grades at Webster
Plantation one roomer on Pickle Ridge. Not like a southern plantation, rather the
designation for a Maine settlement too small to be a town. Wanted to re-enter life
at the socio-economic level they’d left from is how the accounts put it of discharged
G. I.s. But he did yearn for a sufficient homestead of his own to meet his family’s needs.
For once having a house with more than tar paper after the little one he built for us
after working for the Indians at Cold Stream. And with water, more than one lamp,
maybe a telephone and vehicle. Hearing of the G.I. Bill, it was all wonder and wow.
But he’d earned it. Just as Black veterans had.
And even if it wasn’t the neat new tract houses, whatever those were, of Leavittown
that many Blacks, it was said, dreamed of, it would be ours, even if the code enforcement
officer said it should be torn down. Why wouldn’t we believe that they, called “Colored”
back then, where we lived, equally entitled and worthy, would qualify for the promised
low-interest mortgages same as Daddy’s G.I. loan: $6,000 at 4 1/2 % interest for this cold
old house and 60 acres. That was the thing – the land. The pastures, field, brook and
woods. Imagine! Where he and we could grow and hunt and fish all the food we would
ever need-no matter the danger out in the world, and here it is, this pandemic. And never
go hungry as he had as a little boy. All the wood we would ever need to keep warm
winters we sometimes never could get warm enough like old country places, this
all-the-older place, still can be.
Why wouldn’t I believe the same was in store for Black vets, especially the more educa-
tion I got, because I had never seen any til high school, working on Mt. Desert Island,
learning to serve the wealthy by serving their Colored chauffeurs and maids in the hotel
Side Hall. And when t.v. came in the ‘50s. The brutality. Dogs. The heroes.
Just never occurred that veterans of all races wouldn’t have benefited the same. Reaped
the rewards of their grateful nation, too. That the hard-won kettle at the end of our rain-
bow, we families who’d prayed on our knees every night for our fathers to come home
safely from the war, whatever the shade of our skin – God damn it – would have been
Confederate-ized, too. Allowed to be administered by the states, that slick trick.
Still invoked – Dear Jesus – to ensure the unequal protection of Blacks and Browns
in this viral battle and whether we in these far reaches, north, want this evil done
in our names or not, here he is, sickening Jimmy Crow hisself.
Oh, G.I. Billy, how you’ve let us down. All this time believing in your righteousness,
not knowing your terms, given to the deplorable to bestow with their covenants and red
lining, helped create the world-wide economic disparity and pain among us. Making us
racist whether we knew or believed in it or not. In our names.
Congress! Fix it! Go back and give those other WWII children of Black veterans,
elders like I am now, child patriots on the homefront, the break their fathers and mothers
earned. Heal this wound. They deserve it. We all do.
And, I dare say, Dear Black People, that you might think we have earned this place
that my husband, children, and I have now worked and saved another two generations.
Not only because we shared it in the ‘70s with Angie, an African-American child from
Boston in the summer “Fresh Air Program,” and maintained welcomes with four
generations of Wabanaki relations to our fires and story circles, haying, and chasing
fireflies in the fields, popping corn, and making footprints of each baby brought by
honoring and protecting old and new connections. And the hardest, the honest-to-god
truly privileged upper class back-to-the-landers come turning away from their well-to-do
upbringing to give homesteading a try. Real cross class encounters from centuries and
continents of prejudices – we outback subsistence farmers teaching local knowledge,
loaning tools, sharing seeds, harvests, work bees, all of us trying to be good, until they
were done. Gone. History, because of, in large part, the G.I. Bill so there is that.
Or because now, in our latter years, we’ve welcomed a seeking girl from the very heart
of Africa, itself, into our family. And done our best to name and refuse racial evil where
we’ve recognized it, swearing it will never, ever, take this long again. Or because not a day
goes by that we don’t say what those terrified refugees world over – sick, hungry, cold,
and wet – would give to live in our weathered old ark. Please forgive me for the white
privilege of our G.I. loan that put this old yee-yaw roof over our heads
all these imperfect years ago.
Patricia Smith Ranzoni is poet laureate of Bucksport, Maine.
Grieving the G.I. Bill
By Patricia Smith Ranzoni
The engine ran hot
and low by two quarts.
Even the track coach
had faith, of the sort
summer vacation would cut short.
We tried without success
to disbelieve our dreams.
Mist lay like smoke
one night on Branch Pond.
Out swimming, out
farther than I’d ever gone,
I thought of turning back
but we kept on together, apart,
in lunar-lit dark.
Back on the beach we
both felt high, we
lay exhausted, laughing,
side by side, we
shivered, gone goose-fleshed,
until we’d dried,
reluctant to waken,
eyes open wide.
The faith between earth
and corruption, kept,
seals the sleep
it seems I’ve slept, like a moth
on a sun-warmed wall, a death,
so like a dream
but not a dream.
Rick Doyle lives in Bucksport, Maine.
By Rick Doyle
Note on Reading
When I used to teach literature classes, a lot of students were
suspicious of poetry. They said they could not understand it.
As far as they knew, poems were puzzles to be solved by
brute brain force. This rational detective work seemed to
them arcane, or arbitrary. It even contradicted their own
experiences when they'd stumbled over a poem they thought
they understood. They concluded poetry was merely confusing
and ultimately meaningless to everyday people.
These students were misled by a vast right-left-and-center
wing conspiracy that pretends poems are rational exercises,
like algebra problems, whose solutions are political, social,
philosophical or personal statements. In some wings of the
conspiracy, you can even pretend the poems mean whatever
you want them to, which is the ultimate nonsense.
Wallace Stevens wrote: "One reads poetry with one's nerves."
By this he meant the meaning of poetry is not solved
rationally; it is felt. Words do trigger thoughts, which is why
the professors get away with forcing you to read a poem as if
it is a rebus. But a poem's thought is often the least of its
meanings. A poem speaks to your emotions, which are often
hard to get into rational focus. It speaks to your (largely
neglected) faculties that detect meaning in music and
beautiful scenery. It speaks to parts of yourself you don't even
know exist until they're stirred up by sounds, rhythms,
Stevens also wrote: "Poetry must resist the intelligence
If you can't understand the rational meaning of a poem, don't
worry. You should listen with other parts of yourself besides
your head. "To read a poem should be an experience, like
experiencing an act."
In the last few decades, the worldwide Poetry Industry has
refined its product down to two essential purposes: 1)
Poetry is a means of self-expression, or 2) poetry is a
vehicle for fostering social justice. These are certainly two
things poetry can do. But two among an uncountable many.
Before about the twentieth century – for 5,000-plus years,
that is – the primary purpose of poetry, whether written or
oral, was entertainment. It happens that language can do
powerful things to your mind. So poetry was a form of
entertainment that could awaken your mind. The awakening
was to emotions and other kinds of mind-expanding
feelings that words can trigger.
Anyone can write poems to entertain himself or express
herself in his or her own private world. This can be a useful,
even awakening, activity. But when the poems are offered
for others to read, the activity is no longer only the writer’s,
and becomes the reader’s. Simple outpourings of feeling
usually do not stir anything that is not already awake, or
Social issues can be useful topics for poems. And so can
everything else. When a poem on a social topic is offered
for others to read, it is a good poem not when it expresses
a moral view you already hold, but is good when it inspires
a powerful feeling that is a new understanding of the topic.
It’s not the topic or the moral “message” that makes the
poem. Poems that restate the statements of other poems
awaken nothing new. Eventually they become tiresome. If a
poem conveys to you a feeling or thought you already know,
then it’s not much of a poem. What makes a poem is the
awakening it inspires.
There are myriads of kinds of inspiration beyond those that
state your sense of social justice. Poems can awaken them.
Unfortunately for all of us, the Poetry Industry does not see
it this way. Some high-profile, wealthy industrialists have
stated flat-out that the only legitimate purposes for reading
and writing are to foster social justice or to express
personal feelings. This narrow view of poetry is a
framework for worldwide psychic poverty.
At ramshackle gas and grocery stores
with BAIT written in magic marker
on brown cardboard taped to a fly-blown
front window you can pull in, to wait in line
while a heavy-set woman chats up locals
buying lottery tickets, cigarettes and Pabst
two-packs, of course, and to purchase
a Styrofoam coffee cup of mealy worms
that will curl and wiggle on an open palm
you out-hold to half-tame your phoebes
that return each March to cozy niches
our houses provide. But we don’t do
what you do. Our phoebes snap their bills
in dismay when the oil man lugs a hose
fat as a python under the deck, rasps off
the steel cap and clanks the nozzle
into the pipe, and then clicks at a bic
to fire a cigar as he waits next to the gurgle
for a finishing whistle. Our phoebes
must sally down from outflung twigs
and telephone wires to snatch what bugs
might be fluttering or beetling about
for no apparent reason in this universe
of necessary causes that in late autumn
tells all our phoebes to disappear for Mexico
with no sweet words of farewell,
when sturdy carpenters will drill up boards
on our rotting deck, crumbling down
the exquisite cups the phoebes wrought,
year after year, and as sweating workers
strip to their tank-tees under October sun
we agree to see SEMPER FI inked into skin
as faith in a necessary myth of return.
William Hathaway recently moved back to Maine after several years
fighting battles in Gettysburg, Pa. His recent book is Dawn Chorus.
By William Hathaway
I didn’t know.
I did not know