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Robert Greenfield and the Rolling Stones

If you’re very lucky, perhaps you’ve seen The Rolling Stones in concert or, maybe you harbor some collectable vinyl albums. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ve gone on tour with the Stones, spent dozens of hours interviewing members of the band, or even spent days living at Mick Jagger’s villa. Award-winning author and summer Peaks Island resident Robert Greenfield has done those things; it’s fair to say that our understanding of music in 20th century society is better for it.

Author Robert Greenfield

Author Robert Greenfield

In a quick telephone interview with me, Greenfield conceded that he has had some extraordinary opportunities to write about several “rather megahuman” individuals. Greenfield was referring to Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, six-time Grammy Award winner Burt Bacharach, and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. That’s the short list. Greenfield said, “Writing about extraordinary people you can learn something about life that is different than writing about people with quiet lives.” In part, Greenfield attributes the success of his career — writing about icons of the music industry — to “feeling passionate about the work and remaining absolutely trustworthy in trying to capture the humanity of people who can really be very difficult.”

When I asked Greenfield if he considered himself a journalist, a narrative non-fiction writer, or a classic rock documentarian, he said, “I’m a writer. I don’t like to be categorized.” Fair enough considering that he’s also a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who served as Associate Editor of the London bureau of Rolling Stone Magazine.

"Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye" book cover

“Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye” book cover

This Thursday evening, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Greenfield and hear him read from his newly-published “Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile (Da Capo Press/Perseus Books 2014), one of the twelve books that he has authored. The Peaks Island Branch of the Portland Public Library will host the event this Thursday, August 14th from 7-9:00 PM.

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Port City Poets on Peaks Island

Stone Boat Poetry presents PORT CITY POETS: Contemporary Poets Celebrate Portland, Maine on Thursday, August 7 at 7pm at 5th Maine Memorial Hall on Peaks Island.

Join us for an evening with not one, not two… twelve Portland area poets who will read original poems!

Featured: Linda Aldrich, Marcia F. Brown, Dennis Camire, Claire Hersom, Mihku Paul-Anderson, Jesse Mantsch, Pam Burr Smith, Bruce Spang, Martin Steingesser, Jim Glenn Thatcher, George VanDeventer, Anna Bat-Chai Wrobel.

Readings begin at 7 pm

Books by individual contributing poets, and the recent anthology will be available. Support the writers!

Light refreshments will be served. ****volunteers most welcome to bring some refreshments.****

Free and Open to the Public<Join us for an evening with not one, not two… twelve Portland area poets who will read .

<Join us for an evening with not one, not two… twelve Portland area poets who will read poetry event yet.
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What islanders love more than books: a book sale

Library on Peaks Island

Library on Peaks Island

The Friends of the Peaks Island Branch library will throw one of the island’s most beloved literary traditions, the annual book sale extravaganza this Saturday, July 19th from 8 AM to 2 PM. So come and get your retail therapy, guilt free.

Loaded down with treasures at the annual book sale

Loaded down with treasures at the annual book sale

But wait! This is also your opportunity to make room on your crowded bookshelves for those new reads. Drop-off your books to donate them to the sale on Friday, July 18th from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Community Room.

Through Peaks Island Press, Patricia Erikson offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Book drop-off for Peaks Island Book Sale

Friday, July 18 – 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: Peaks Island Branch
Audience: Adults, Teens, Kids & Families, Seniors
Too many books?? Bring your book donations to the library during the day Friday in preparation for our annual Friends of the Peaks Island Library Book Sale on Saturday.

- See more at: http://www.portlandlibrary.com/events/book-drop-peaks-island-book-sale/#sthash.dOy5dF1a.dpufCommunity Room.

Friends of the Peaks Island Library Book Sale

Saturday, July 19 – 8:00am – 2:00pm
Location: Peaks Island Branch
Audience: Adults, Teens, Kids & Families, Seniors
Pick up some new summer reads and support your island library!! Book sale to be held in the Community Room.

- See more at: http://www.portlandlibrary.com/events/friends-peaks-island-library-book-sale/#sthash.PnoPNjnh.dpuf

Death by Dissolution: Mark Green and Ocean Acidification of Casco Bay, Maine and everywhere else

mark-green2Although Mark Green, Ph.D. has authored nearly two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, we might refer to him as a sci-fi horror author of something called “Death by Dissolution.” Except, sadly, it’s not sci-fi and the National Science Foundation-funded research and oyster farming experience of this Peaks Island resident and St. Joseph’s College professor have shown that what he writes is the awful truth. The ocean – here in Casco Bay, Maine and everywhere else – is becoming acidic at an unprecedented rate, unprecedented in the last 20 million years, or so.

Mark Green presents on ocean acidification on Peaks Island

Mark Green presents on ocean acidification on Peaks Island

Last night, the Peaks Environmental Action Team (PEAT) sponsored Dr. Mark Green’s presentation of “The Health of Casco Bay.” Green explained, “What I want to talk about is a global issue, something new on the radar screen of science – ocean acidification – also known as ‘climate change’s evil twin’ or ‘the other CO2 problem.’ This is a global phenomenon that will impact Maine as much as it will everywhere else.”

You’re probably already familiar with the effects of combustion of fossil fuels and the destruction of rainforest that, collectively, result in loading the atmosphere with billions of tons of carbon every year. Can we deny that this is driving global climate change? Green says no, that “by every conceivable measure, we are changing the climate. The CO2 is now higher than at any time in the last 20 million years and increasing at a rate greater than 100X anything that occurred during that period of time.”

St. Joseph’s College magazine described Green as “the first scientist to prove tiny juvenile clams were dying primarily because their shells were dissolving in less alkaline conditions.” The National Science Foundation has encouraged his pioneering science by awarding him with multiple grants to continue his research related to the effects of ocean acidification on sea life.

So, as a society, do we care about this acidification? Green compared news coverage of the Kardashians and of ocean acidification from 2011 to 2012 – the result? A 46:1 ratio of what received coverage in the media. That estimate is no doubt wildly conservative, given that it doesn’t count social media. So even if most of us aren’t paying attention, why should we care? If I understood Green correctly, a quarter of the carbon dioxide load that we are “dumping” into the atmosphere is “absorbed” by the ocean. As the CO2 in the atmosphere increases, so, too, does the amount absorbed by the ocean. In turn, as the carbon load of the ocean increases, the pH of seawater must go down, thus becoming more acidic.

Green projects that, if we proceed with “business as usual” energy usage and lifeways, by the year 2100 the ocean will reach a pH of 7.8 and “everything in the ocean that we know right now would not exist, with the exception of some jellyfish. No corals, shells, or phytoplankton (the base of the food chain). What we have already done is irreversible, at least, not reversible in less than tens of thousands of years. One publication predicts that coral will be unable to grow anywhere even by 2050.”

Green’s message is confident and straightforward, “There is no mitigation, no bioengineering to fix this. This is a global issue and there’s nothing we can do except turn off the CO2 pump, stop putting so much CO2 into the atmosphere. You cannot refuse this science. To refute this science would be, literally, like arguing there is no gravity.”

Sooo, if you’re feeling a “fatalistic stupor” or suffering from “environmental fatalism,” then check out this article in a sustainability newsletter or this one in The Atlantic . Then when you’re bolstered, you can read more about the impacts of shellfish harvesting in the Maine economy in the Bangor Daily News  and about Maine’s commission that has formed to study this problem in the Press Herald. For pictures of Mark Green oyster farming, see Basket Island Oyster Co.’s facebook page. If you missed his talk, you can watch a video on St. Joseph’s College YouTube channel below.

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

American Idol mania brings film crew to Umbrella Cover Museum

American Idol visits Umbrella Cover Museum

American Idol visits Umbrella Cover Museum

Nancy 3. Hoffman — singer, accordionist, pianist, musical director, Curator/Director of the world’s only Umbrella Cover Museum, and author of “Uncovered and Exposed” hosted a film crew from American Idol today.

Visiting our fair city of Portland for the American Idol bus tour auditions, a film crew sought out Nancy here on Peaks Island to film a quirky, local attraction.

American Idol bus on Maine State Pier

American Idol bus on Maine State Pier

Nancy said, “They Came!! American Idol has filmed me and the Umbrella Cover Museum!! It was crazy – they arrived at 4:50 PM; I greeted them playing my accordion at the ferry. We jogged up the hill; they filmed, I blabbed, I sang the theme song, and played. We jogged back down the hill and they made the 5:00 boat. Whew. If it does not get cut it will be on [American Idol] in January or February! Do not hold your breath.

So keep an eye out for Portland and Peaks Island as we may show up on this season’s popular show, or, come and visit the Umbrella Cover Museum in person or ready Nancy’s book.

Here is some nice footage of Nancy in her museum on Peaks.

 

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Poet Chris Robley featured at Peaks Island’s Stone Boat Poetry

ChrisRobleyposter

Chris Robley album cover

Poet, songwriter, musician, and producer Chris Robley – with roots in the “other Portland” – is delivering his well-crafted work to appreciative audiences right here in our own (the first!) Portland these days. POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, Pacifica Literary Review, and Arsenic Lobster have all published Robley’s poetry. He won the Boulevard’s 2013 Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 Maine Literary Award for “Short Works Poetry.”

Read more about Chris and watch video clips of him performing his music at http://blog.chrisrobley.com and then come offer him a warm, island welcome.

Organizer Jesse Mantsch explains, “As always, we will have an open reading, so bring a poem of your own work or another’s to read, or come just to listen, that’s fine, too. And please bring food and/or something to drink, but if you don’t have something to bring, please come anyway. The words and voices are what we want the most.”

WEDNESDAY, JULY 9TH AT 7 PM

at Janii and Lawrence Mott’s workshop/boat shelter/ poetry venue/ pumphouse at the top of Elizabeth Street on Peaks Island.

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

 

“So you want to be an islander?”: Tom Bergh writes on Casco Bay

Tom Bergh with student kayaking expedition

Tom Bergh (far right) with student kayaking expedition

Whatever you do, “do NOT ask us – as in never ask us – what time the 2:15 boat leaves.”

So says Tom Bergh to those who yearn to become islanders. In hosting the hundreds of thousands of tourists who migrate to Maine, especially in summer and fall, we earn our license plate moniker “Vacationland.” Tourism is the largest industry in Maine’s economy, measured in billions of dollars. With its shoreline road, beaches, favored wedding locations, restaurants, cottage rentals, and shops, Peaks Island hosts a significant share of Maine’s tourist traffic. Island residents react to tourism in varying ways – from refusing to leave their property for three months (well amost) to rolling up their sleeves and making tourism a cornerstone of their business.

So you want to be an islander?

So you want to be an islander?

Tom Bergh, outdoorsman and owner of Maine Island Kayak, is one of the islanders who has spent years coaxing tourists into kayaks and introducing them to Maine, to Peaks Island, and to the allure of Casco Bay’s marine life and ocean currents. Tom once told Canoe & Kayak that “The sea strips you down so quickly. It shows you how people relate to themselves and their environment and that it’s all about taking total responsibility for every aspect of your actions.” Having led countless families and school or corporate groups on excursions, Tom was ideally suited to pen his first book, “So you want to be an islander?: A Field Guide to Life in Casco Bay.”

This self-published guidebook covers everything from ferry etiquette (including what not to ask) to island rules of the road and from a history of lighthouses to a look at local sea life inhabiting tide pools.

A New Field Guide to Life on Peaks Island, Casco Bay, Maine is available at amazon.com, at our beloved, local Longfellow Books, or by contacting tom@maineislandkayak.com, 207-232-6733.

For a glimpse of Peaks Island kayaking – on the aggressive side – watch this video, if you dare.

Born to Write, Living in Exile

tarpedboat

Tarped boat awaiting first launch

When I was barely old enough to hold a pencil, I wrote stories. I started typing them as soon as my mother offhandedly passed her clackety typewriter to me so that I could play at being a reporter. Writing has been one of the most defining desires in my life, yet, I find myself living in exile from it.

Should I blame the full-time job that leaves me wrung out by the end of the day? Or the household chores that pile up onto the night and weekend time slots when I’m not working? And don’t forget the emotional exhaustion and sleeplessness that accompany parenting a teenager. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I’ve let my life tear me away from writing.

typewriterkeys2Now I am pitching and lurching, unmoored, adrift on cross-cutting currents not of my making, poised for a wreck. Without writing, there is no direction, no point on the horizon for reckoning. No point at all.

I stop and look, really look, at my mother’s typewriter, now mounted on a wall, its keys black, rounded, gem-like. I want to tap them, watch the keywheel spin, throw the carriage return to one side with a satisfying smack. And start again. Click, click, clack. Click, click, clack. I want to push back at the life-squalls, drop a line overboard, and let it rope-burn through my fingers, clean and direct, plummeting to the seabed, led by a word-weighted anchor seeking a page.

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc visits Stone Boat Poetry on Peaks Island

Writer, teacher, and former Director of the Telling Room

"Pete" from Dryhead Ranch in Montana

“Pete” from Dryhead Ranch in Montana

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc visited Peaks Island’s Stone Boat Poetry gathering this week. Although I was not fortunate enough to join the group and hear him read, I took a moment to read a few of his poems. Having devoted years of my life to all things equestrian, I found “Rider Unhorsed” captivating. Preparing this post gave me the excuse to revisit the photos I took on a ranch in Montana. This looming horse muzzle seemed appropriate.

After you enjoy it, keep in mind that Stone Boat Poetry meets the first Wednesday evening of every month to celebrate a featured poet and host an open read.

Rider Unhorsed

First reeds at the pathside became vocal
then the dunes’ curve met the curvature
inside my eye. I saw Polaris become

five-pointed, and red pines closed the sky
as bluebells opened it. This is vision country.

As to where my horse is, my steed of good
deeds and satchel of bad lemons, or how

my head became a tuning fork in a thicket,
I’m too busy to answer. The alder’s summer

is speckled and short-stalked; the blackbird
parades its reds; nuthatches dangle down.

Linger with me; step out of your swivet.
Be mind-muddied a while, and temple-robbed.
Be lullabied by the music of far-off bells.

Copyright © 2006 Gibson Fay-LeBlanc All rights reserved
from Backwards City Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Can we understand the past? Tip #5 of writing historical novels

sheets“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
― L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Barring the invention of a time machine, we can never truly inhabit the past, perhaps never truly understand it. Tip #5 of the 5 Tips for writing a historical novel considers: how can we presume to write about it? Do we seek to understand the past as a “foreign country,” understanding it for its own sake and on its own terms? Or, do we wish to view history through the lens of the present, as though it is still with us, still informing and informed by our present point of view?

I would say that both are true. On some level, we must accept and respect that the past is a foreign country. Unless we’re working in a fantasy genre, we can’t write tomatoes onto the table of an early Roman banquet, nor can James Cameron get away with a reference in the movie Titanic to a man-made reservoir that did not yet exist. The past really was different. People spoke differently, experienced life differently, and had different resources available to them.

On the other hand, repercussions from the past continue to shape our world. An author can find, with great care, analogy in the present that can inform writing about the past. In writing about soldiers’ experiences in World War One, Peaks Island author Nicole d’Entremont reflected upon the war veterans who attended her Sudden Fiction* classes in Albuquerque. A story shared by one veteran from the first Iraq war found itself come alive in a scene about WWI. Nicole explained:

I remember a vet from the 1990 Gulf  War who wrote a reflection drawn from a Sudden Fiction prompt. He remembered the dust, heat, and hot wind of the desert.  Then, one day back home in New Mexico, he saw his mother’s freshly washed sheets hanging on the line, flapping and drying in the sun, catching the breeze.  He buried his face in those sheets for their clean smell, their coolness and freshness– burying his face in all of it. Reflecting on his writing now, I remember thinking that his feeling was almost like a cleansing, some kind of baptism. I had my character, Elzear, (back from the WWI trenches in 1919 having survived the war) do this same thing in A Generation of Leaves.  I thank that student whose name I have forgotten for such a lasting image.

While language, technology, and national boundaries change from the past to the present, there are aspects of our humanity that endure across generations. As long as we respect that the past is a foreign country, we can still cross the border and find common ground.

If you would like to meet Nicole, then come to her book launch event for A Generation of Leaves this week, Tuesday, February 25th at 7 PM in the Doug MacVane Community Center on Peaks Island.

*Here, Sudden Fiction refers to workshops, facilitated by Nicole and others, that encourage writers to respond to a prompt by writing for one unbroken hour and then reading aloud to share with the group.

Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

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