The cover image for 3 Nations had its own story. Several years ago, I attended a show at the Tides Institute in Eastport, ME (the easternmost city in the US) and fell in love with the work of a Canadian print artist. Lesson one: never fall in love with a single artwork when working on a cover. Lesson two: know when to walk away. It took me a while, I didn’t want to give up on the piece, but eventually I did (the piece was tangled in an estate). The book still needed a cover.
At Off the Coast, people sent me artwork and I would select an image and then design the cover with it. I had nothing for 3 Nations. So I went to work and did what designers do, I sketched and tinkered, and Read More…
Part alchemy, part hard work, and a big space to lay out all the pieces, this is how a manuscript comes together.
The deadline for submissions for the 3 Nations Anthology was March 15. In the ensuing weeks, the pieces were read and reread many times.
There are many ways to put a book like this together. Alphabetized by author, sorted by subject, or genre, all are valid constructions. I looked for the conversations between the pieces, to see where subject and tone collided or harmonized. At Off the Coast, every issue was produced this way.
I carted the manuscript to the University of Maine Machias and spread everything out on tables in the art room on the second floor of Powers Hall. It was a wonderful, quiet place to work in. Before long, the manuscript was stretched out across thirty feet of table space. With a deep breath, I dove in and started reading, and sorting, and moving the pieces around. The physicality of this process is amazing. The words dance on the pages and you in turn, dance with the pages. It feels much like that scene in Fantasia with Wizard Mickey conducting and everything around you, the tables, the marble busts, the pages, the light itself swirling into something magical. Read More….
Resolute Bear began as a chunk of log on the side of the road in Pennsylvania. Most books come from a similar source.
Michael and I stopped at the road side stand of a chain saw carver on the way home from a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country, where Michael had lived as a child. There was a whole row of bears and a few other different carvings waiting to be sold. The bears had been burned lightly with a blowtorch to make them black where the fur should be. The carver was spraying his creations with linseed oil to help them last longer. The smell of wood chips, singed wood, and the oil was heavy in the summer air.
Most of the carvings were happy little bears with wide-eyed grins. One lone bear with his mouth set in a non-committal way waited to be convinced to lean into a frown or brighten up to a grin. His eyes were smaller than the others, too, making him slightly myopic looking.
Naturally, Michael and I would be drawn to the odd bear. We chatted with the man, made a deal, and the bear came home with us. We call the bear “Resolute.” For the record, almost everything in our yard had a name. There was Melba the Peach Tree, Red Auerbach the Maple, Nathaniel the Hawthorne, and the trio of potted Christmas Trees we rescued from Home Depot: Luke, Bruce, and Blue. In the front yard was Stanley, the Blue Spruce, for Stanley Kunitz, the famed gardener poet who also lived on the Cape. Read More…
I am excited that submissions are coming in for the 3 Nations Anthology! I have had a lot of computer troubles the last few weeks which has slowed down outreach and calls for submission. My computer was cleaned up, emails changed, and eventually I bought a new computer, and then had to have our router upgraded. Thankfully, everything is back and working now except for a couple of minor glitches synching some files.
Briefly, it felt like the universe was telling me not to do this project. The 3 Nations Anthology was conceived in a much more hopeful time. The increasingly nationalistic tone of the new administration makes this call for dialogue among neighboring nations all the more critical. We must keep communication open.
Last Sunday, the Portland Sun Journal published a poem I wrote after participating in a community project to build a birch bark canoe with Master Passamaquoddy artisan, David Moses Bridges. Over the course of two weeks, David coordinated a group of eager people at all skill levels to build an ocean-going birch bark canoe. It was a monumental undertaking as the cedar, birch bark, and spruce roots were fashioned using ancient methods into a canoe. David worked tirelessly and patiently taught everyone who needed instruction—this is how to form the bark, bend the ribs into place, how to join the pieces at the gunwales, carve the pegs to hold the pieces in place, lash them together with spruce roots, and seal the seams with a mix of pine pitch and bear fat.
The canoe, constructed in The Commons of the Cobscook Community Learning Center, slowly moved from a sheet of bark to a finished work as not just a vessel, but a work of art. It glowed in the center of the room with soft reflected light on the bark and the wood. Read More…