Sunday, September 30, 2012

Statement on Marriage Equality

Among the many hats I wear is being a member of the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, Maine. I am very proud to say that the congregation has engaged in a process of drafting and approving a Statement of Conscience in support of the upcoming vote on Marriage Equality on the Maine State Ballot this November. Here it is:

"We, the Congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, Maine, stand on the side of love. We unconditionally respect and affirm the right of all adults to marry, and in doing so, strengthen Maine families and communities.

Today, many fundamental benefits are denied same-sex couples who seek to live in a bond of love and compassion within the sanctity of marriage.

As people of justice and conscience, we honor and respect marriage as a cornerstone of our freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We urge our neighbors across Maine to join with us in support of marriage equality and vote YES on Question 1."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blog-view: Arielle Greenberg

 Arielle Greenberg is  a new  member of the lively Maine poetry scene, and we’re glad she and her family chose to settle in Belfast after she left a tenured position in poetry at Columbia College Chicago. She is co-author, with Rachel Zucker, of the hybrid-genre Home/Birth: A Poemic, and author of My Kafka Century, Given, and several chapbooks, including the forthcoming Shake Her

Not only that, she is co-editor of three anthologies, most recently the not-too-missed Gurlesque with Lara Glenum.  And she teaches poetry out of her home, in the community, and through the University of Tampa's low-residency MFA program. She can been seen in her regular column for the American Poetry Review on issues and trends in contemporary poetics

LB: What is an artifact you have in your studio or writing space, and what does it mean for your work?
AG: I don't really have a writing space per se: I usually write the first drafts of my poems long-hand, preferably while lying horizontally across my bed, or on scraps of paper while I'm driving, or on the backs of other sheets of paper.  Later I type them in at my computer, which is on a little vintage Danish modern desk in my "office" next to the kids' playroom.  My desk is covered with papers, books, things I rip out of magazines, etc., but none of these are exactly artifacts.  So, no artifact and no writing space! I don't mind, though: I'm generally kind of adverse to things or routines that mythologize and idealize the act of poem-making.

LB: We're interested in knowing what you've read recently but we'd love to know what you wish you had read at some point, or sometimes pretend you have read.
AG: I really want to read Lydia Davis' translation of Proust.  Quite a project, and one I've been meaning to undertake for years, but still have not. I've never read Proust. I love the idea of Proust, but I'm not sure I'll like the actual thing.  I love Davis, though, so I feel like if anyone can get me to read him in translation, it will be her.
LB: What is something you would like to tell the world?
AG: Oh, gosh. I'm such a loudmouth: I'm sure that I've already shouted everything I want to tell the world more than I ought to have.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Some random quotes I like

"A word is a way to speak about something that really, in truth, no word can touch. . . . A word is, just for a moment, what arriving might be like--before there slips into here. And here goes in earnest search of another 'elsewhere.'" --Lia Purpura, Rough Likeness

"Get those words out of your mouth and into your heart." --Jack Spicer quoted in my vocabulary did this to me. Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian

"I am calling the stars in to me
come in through the head
come in through the chest
come in to my heart"
--Gary Lawless, "Sardine Songs"

"World, world, I can't get you close enough." Edna St. Vincent Millay in something

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blog-view: Gary Lawless

Poet Gary Lawless has stepped up to be the second person to contribute to my new feature on this blog--"Blog-view: Blog-sized interviews with writers, artists, and other interesting people." It's an opportunity to show off interesting folks that I know, and is a some-time addition (depending on the reliability of my sources). I'll ask each the same three questions, which they can answer any way they like -- words not required -- or choose to ignore.

Gary, born and bred in Belfast, Maine, owns Gulf of Maine books with his wife Beth Leonard in downtown Brunswick, Maine, one of our state's truly great bookstores ( He's a nationally recognized poet and has published 16 poetry collections, 12 in the U.S. and 4 in Italy including Caribouddhism and Poems for the Wild Earth. His writing deals with issues of environmental and social justice, and listening to the voices of the underprivileged and overlooked.

Gary has traveled throughout the world including to Italy, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Cuba, reading and sharing his poetry and leading workshops. He has also led writing classes for several nontraditional audiences, such as artists with disabilities at Spindleworks in Brunswick, the homeless population at Preble Street in Portland, refugees living in Lewiston and Portland, and war veterans back from Afghanistan and Iraq. To hear him read from his work, check out  and

Gary has chosen to answer this blog-view question: We're interested in knowing what you've read recently, but we'd love to know what you wish you had read at some point, or sometimes pretend you have read.

"This summer I have been reading poetry biographies: Lisa Jarnot's biography of Robert Duncan led me to a new collection of Duncan's interviews called A Poet's Mind (published by Richard Grossinger of North Atlantic Books. Richard taught at USM in the late 60s /early seventies and turned a number of us on to new poets, film makers, ideas by bringing them to Portland, publishing them in his magazine Io, or just by talking about them.)

Then I read Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, which led to a re-reading of Pound's Pisan Cantos. (Pound as a prisoner in a cage in the post WWII Italian sun rather like Guantanamo) And then I re-read Savage Beauty  the Edna St. Vincent Millay biography, to prepare for a panel in Camden where I spoke about Millay and Ragged Island. (The Saint Kathleen Lignell spent the summer putting on an unending series of wonderful Millay events in Camden celebrating the 100th anniversary of Millay's first public reading of her poems.)
What I wish I had been reading is anything on Maine geology, especially granite. I have been thinking about granite for several years now, after a trip to the quarry in Frankfort (Maine) where my grandfather worked. This summer we have visited more granite at Cobscook Bay, Great Wass Island, and Acadia. I want to learn about granite, about its role in the physical creation of the place where I live, but also its role in connection with humans in the last couple of centuries. (the ice-tattooed granite, granite the migratory species, flow lines in liquid granite, the Irish and Italian workers in Prospect and Frankfort, or Hurricane Island or  Crotch Island or any of a number of Maine Islands). 

This also leads me to a new interest in lichen and moss communities. My friend magician and author David Abram told me that lichen was the spoken language of granite. I am trying to watch, listen and learn."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9/11 thoughts

 This from my friend and fellow poet and all-around cool person Ellen Sander:
"--- what fell out of my head as I awoke this morning.
That is what I cherish about your heart, your courage, your scope of reference. You can experience conflicted issues, embrace opposing ideas, walk through a forest of contradictions and somehow find in them  meaning. They are compatible by virtue of simultaneity, by confluence, by the presence in your life of marvel and complexity. That is your special nature, the bigness of understanding. And if we don't always use it in expression or action, it is just a gift to someone else's opportunity to reconcile conundrum. That is what I cherish about your heart, your courage, your scope of reference.

A day of peace to us all, from deep inside yourself, to contemplate and thank." - Home Page
Crackpot Chronicles - blog
folly me on Twitter

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Post-birthday blog

Tonight, the air is so warm and humid and the kitchen floor so sticky, I feel like I'm back in Florida, where I grew up. The trees are thrashing around so loudly in the heavy wind, it seems like a hurricane is on its way.
I was born on the cusp of three hurricanes. September is prime hurricane season in Miami, and in 1950, several circled my mother’s due date. “Charlie,” “Dog,” and “Easy” bounced over the South Atlantic as my father carried my mother’s suitcase onto the hospital elevator. When the elevator door opened, the nurse picked up the suitcase, took my mother’s hand, and closed the door in front of my father.
 In the bed next to my mother’s lay a young, laboring Seminole woman who was brought in from her chickee in the Everglades. First the Indian woman was put under anesthesia and then my mother was. When my mother awoke some time later, the hurricanes were veering away from Miami, and she had a new baby girl sleeping down the hall in the nursery. The Seminole woman was gone, disappearing with her new baby back into the ’Glades.
My mother held me in her lap as we rode in my father’s ’46 Chevy along the narrow strip of asphalt that is Southwest 8th Street, known as the Tamiami Trail, which stretches a hundred and ten miles through the Everglades to Tampa on the west coast. The Silver Court Trailer Park sat on the edge of Miami, and the buildings that lined the route squatted modestly under the relentless sun. Their low-pitched roofs were designed to deflect hurricanes and the shabby porches looked like they had been through a few.
 Our trailer park was lush and green with tropical vegetation and song birds. Friendly chameleons scurried across the screens of the porch my father built, which doubled as the living room for our tiny silver trailer. The heavy smells of night-blooming jasmine and gardenias hung in the humidity. Variegated crocus and palms reached over the trailer park’s crushed coquina shell road as my mother pushed my stroller along, showing me off to the other residents. One stop, since we didn’t have a bathroom in our trailer, was always the common bathrooms housed in a whitewashed stucco building with green stains creeping up the outside. My mother, who grew up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood as my father,  put me out in my playpen every day in just a diaper, because what could be better for a young child than that fresh Florida air?
(Excerpt from "Launched" copyright 2012 by Linda Buckmaster)