Homemaking, Snowbabies, and the Search for the North Pole: Josephine Diebitsch Peary and the Making of National History
November 3, 2013 at 11:23 am · Filed under Authors, On Writing, Peaks Island Press and tagged: Arctic exploration, Bowdoin College, how to write a book, Inuit, Josephine Peary, literary tourism, Maine Women Writers Collection, non-fiction, Patricia Erikson, Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, women's history
After crossing Casco Bay by ferry, packages are delivered to islanders by the taxi driver. This week, I found a package on my doorstep and hurried it inside, just as a rainstorm hit the island. I was thrilled to find that it contained a copy of the newly-published book “North by Degree: New Perspectives on Arctic Exploration” (Lightning Rod Press, American Philosophical Society) that includes my article “Homemaking, Snowbabies, and the Search for the North Pole: Josephine Diebitsch Peary and the Making of National History.”
Since 2007, Peaks Island Press has offered its readers a glimpse of the daily lives, inspirations, and publications of the many authors who call Peaks Island home. Once in a great while, I turn the spotlight on myself and share something about my own writing process or publications. “Homemaking, Snowbabies, and the Search for the North Pole” started with a conference presentation that I gave at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 2008 where an amazing assemblage of speakers gathered to bring new perspective to the history of Arctic exploration. The timing was very meaningful as 2008 was the centennial of Robert E. Peary’s 1908-09 North Pole Expedition and it was also the fourth International Polar Year. I was honored to be invited to share my research: an account of Robert Peary’s quest for the North Pole through the eyes of his wife, Josephine. Here’s an excerpt from the article to give you a sense for the story:
“The notoriously deadly and tragic outcomes of many prior Arctic expeditions had made the idea of taking a woman, more specifically a white woman, to the Arctic seem ridiculous to the American public in the 1890s. In 1891, three years after their marriage, Josephine embarked on her first of several Arctic expeditions with Robert Peary. She did this despite public criticism that the expedition was too dangerous for her and in spite of the male expedition members who resented her presence and what they called her “scandalously short” traveling costume. (Erikson, p. 266).
I don’t believe my research travels ever involved a scandalously short traveling costume, but I did a fair amount of retracing Josephine’s footsteps before I wrote about her. That journey included interviewing Peary family members, visiting the Peary cottage at Eagle Island, diving into the archives at the Maine Women Writers Collection (UNE), at Bowdoin College, and at Dartmouth College, and traveling to Qaanaaq, Greenland to gather oral history from Inuit peoples whose ancestors played crucial roles in the Peary expeditions. I’ll share more about these adventures for those of you who love research, non-fiction, and travel.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read some of my writing about the Peary family, you can check out the following that are available online:
- Josephine Diebitsch Peary (journal Arctic, March 2009)
- An Arctic Betsy Ross (Heritage in Maine 2010)
- Snow Queen: A Woman in Full (Portland Magazine 2009)
- Meet the Other Pearys (Portland Magazine, Winter 2011)
- From Maine to the Arctic 2011 (Heritage in Maine 2011)
- North Pole Flag (Heritage in Maine 2009)
- Josephine Peary in the Centennial Commemoration Year (Heritage in Maine 2009)
- ‘Find a Way or Make One’ Camp (Heritage in Maine 2009)
November 3, 2013 at 6:48 am · Filed under Authors, On Writing and tagged: Catherynne Valente, fiction, how to write a book, Longfellow Books, Maine, Peaks Island, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, YA fiction
Peaks Island author Catherynne Valente has just published “The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two,” her third in a five-part YA fantasy series that has placed her on the New York Times bestseller list.
A reviewer for Booklist said, “As usual, Valente enlightens readers with pearly gleams of wisdom about honesty, identity, free will, and growing up. September often worries who she should be and what path she should follow, but the lovely truth, tenderly told, is that it’s all up to her. Thanks to a dramatic cliff-hanger ending, there is sure to be more empowerment and whimsy to come. Grades 5-8. –Sarah Hunter” and Times Magazine called it, ““One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland series.”
or watch a trailer about the series
September 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm · Filed under Events
It’s September 1st and islanders are starting to find each other again as the throngs of tourists begin to thin. Recovering the ability to greet folks on the ferry whose name you actually know feels rather like sighting a rare bird that has shown up in your yard unannounced.”Oh, my goodness, I actually know you! Where have you been?” And then we share how gardening, hosting guests, traveling, and picking berries have kept us out of sight for months. Not only do we rediscover each other on the ferry, but also over words.
Guest post by event organizer Jesse Mantsch (email@example.com)
Valued poetry aficionados & devotees:
Stone Boat Poetry Reading on Peaks Island.
August 7, 2013 at 6 PM
Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial and Lodge
proudly featuring former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl
& your poems! (open reading)
Betsy Sholl has published seven collections of poetry, including Rough Cradle (Alice James Books, 2009). Don’t Explain won the 1997 Felix Pollak Prize from the University of Wisconsin, and her book The Red Line won the 1991 AWP Prize for Poetry. Her chapbooks include Pick A Card, winner of the Maine Chapbook Competition in 1991, and Betsy Sholl: Greatest Hits, 1974-2004, Pudding House Publications. She was a founding member of Alice James Books and published three collections with them: Changing Faces, Appalachian Winter and Rooms Overhead. Among her awards are a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and two Maine Writer’s Fellowships. Her work has been included in several anthologies, including Letters to America, Contemporary American Poetry on Race, and a range of magazines, including Field, Triquarterly, Brilliant Corners, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal. She has been a visiting poet at the University of Pittsburgh and Bucknell University. She lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches at the University of Southern Maine and in the MFA Program of Vermont College.
Come show our honored guest some island hospitality at one of Peaks Island’s historic sites, the Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial and Lodge
Guest post by Annie O’Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Path of Stars – A Celebration of Cambodians in Maine
Thursday, August 8 - 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon – Portland Public Library
I’ll be sharing my most recent book, A Path of Stars (ages 7 and up), and engaging young readers in activities to learn about Cambodia including drawing the lotus, writing in Khmer, and sharing Cambodian food. Hopefully, the event will also include a performance by some members of the Portland Cambodian Dance Troupe.
Thanks to a generous donation from Joe and Debbie Bornstein, every child who attends will receive a free copy of A Path of Stars.
And I’m told that the Bornsteins plan to help promote the event with the Time & Temperature Building sign; that week, instead of “CALL — JOE,” it will say “PATH — STAR”!
Here’s more info on “I’m Your Neighbor, Portland”:
In the midst of a national conversation about immigration and assimilation, Portland is debating, not policy, but which book to read first. “I’m Your Neighbor, Portland” is a year-long, city-wide read and series of public events at the Portland Public Library designed to promote a sense of community among the city’s diverse communities. The city-wide read features nine books whose immigrant and refugee subjects made Maine their home in the last several decades and in doing so transformed Portland into a vibrantly multiracial and multicultural city.
July 23, 2013 at 11:05 am · Filed under Authors, Events and tagged: author, books, fiction, how to write a book, Maine, Scott Nash, The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, things to do in Maine, YA fiction
Scott Nash is preparing for the next book event with his usual genius. Nash’s rendition of a Blue Willow transferware plate – with his protagonist of The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate at the center – took my breath away. The daughter of an antiques fanatic, I grew up surrounded by things like Blue Willow plates, pewter tankards, and spinning wheels. The detailed setting and character of these plates, inspired by 18th century Chinese ceramics, is a perfect choice for getting us to think about ships, pirates, and South China, Maine, of course!
The South China Public Library, the oldest continuously operating library in Maine, is hosting this author-illustrator whose interactive talks are always a big hit. Here are the details:
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
South China Public Library, South China, Maine
July 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm · Filed under Authors, Events and tagged: author, book, how to write a book, Maine, non-fiction, sailing, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship, things to do in Maine, Twain Braden, writer, writing
A few months ago, Peaks Island Press caught up with Twain Braden to talk about his newest publication, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship. Now that we’ve had what may be the hottest day of summer and this finely-illustrated and -narrated book has hit the docks, it’s time to turn out to hear Braden and illustrator, Sam Manning, speak at Longfellow Books on Monument Square this Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m.
If your barbecue schedule conflicts with the event this week, then don’t despair, Braden will also speak at the Peaks Island branch of the Portland Public Library next week, Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m. This talk will entail more of a hands-on discussion of navigation techniques. Feel free to bring charts and navigational tools if you’re interested in learning coastal piloting skills.