Peaks Island Press

News on Peaks Island Authors

A Reading from a Memoir about the Uterus and the American Dream: Mira Ptacin

My daughter is an only child, not because I chose this, but because I lost the three pregnancies that followed her blessed birth.

That’s a sentence that I have never committed to paper; I probably never would have, except that I attended Mira Ptacin‘s reading from her memoir at Portland’s newest independent bookstore, Print. Mira read from Pour Your Soul (Soho Press), an account of the discovery that her unborn child would not survive outside of the womb, and the decision that she and her husband, Andrew, made to terminate the pregnancy.

miraptacin2When has it ever been “safe” or easy, socially, for women to discuss their body experiences involving conception, pregnancy, and birth? True, things are better now as bookshelves groan with literature celebrating, and promising tips on navigating, pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. But the ice remains thin under the topics of failed pregnancies or unviable pregnancies that are terminated. Certainly, the current political climate does not make the issue any easier to discuss.

miraptacinreading1Into this void, Mira Ptacin wades with an emotional bravery that sets a high standard for all other writers. At the reading, fellow island author Anne Sibley O’Brien asked about this willingness to bare herself to the reader; Mira responded,

This is just who I am. I had to write this. I had to publish it to move on and create closure. This is behind me now, and it feels like a long time ago. But so many women have reached out to me with their stories. These stories deserve telling.

miraptacinreadingpanoThank you, Mira, for sharing and for encouraging all those who meet you and read your work. I look forward to the next book, a historical fiction in the works!pooryoursoul

I’ll leave you with an apt quote from Stephen King:

“For me, there have been times when the act of writing has been an act of faith, a spit in the eye of despair. Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

Be well and keep writing.

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

 

Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Top Peaks Island Press Clicks in 2016

If you are cozied up to a fire, sipping coffee, wine, or hot chocolate, you might like to peruse the top clicks on Peaks Island Press of 2016, in case you missed them! Wishing you lots of reading and writing in the New Year.

 

  1. My Affair with Henry and the Photo Shoot that Followed
  2. Mira Ptacin: 3 Tips for Busy Mothers Who Write
  3. Making the Bed One More Time: From an Official Empty Nester

Enjoy!

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

 

A Poem for Post-Holiday Doldrums

Like the musician who slumps after a concert, I tend to feel small and drained after Christmas, as though all the love poured into cooking and wrapping (while working) deflates me. Shouldn’t all the festivities create the opposite effect? 

I wrote this poem to capture the feeling of the post-holiday doldrums. Perhaps it’s familiar to you, too?

Backseat Boredom

It all feels backseat now
gone the hair-whipping rush
windshield-pressing anticipation
of every day
replaced with the monotone drone
of tires wearing thin 
on roads already mapped.

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

Making the Bed One More Time: From an Official Empty Nester

When your eighteen year old daughter moves into her college dorm and you make her bed one last time, is this “not letting go?” I can tell you that I did this yesterday; I moved my daughter from Maine to Santa Barbara and bravely accompanied her into her freshman dorm room. 

And I made her bed.

Our spirits had been buoyed by our masterful transport of all of her trash-bagged possessions out of the car, down the narrow dorm hallways, and into the tiny room that was designed as a double but pressed into service for three.

Confession: I had envisioned this moment since before she was born. When I was still pregnant with my daughter, I sewed a fleece crib blanket–one layer of a wintry deep blue and one of a blue and white snowflake pattern. Trimmed in light blue satin, of course. This color scheme revealed not only my dislike for the color pink, in general, but my feminist aversion to compulsory-pink-for-girls, in particular.

More importantly, at the same time in 1997, I sewed an identical blanket of X-long twin size for her use when she graduated to a ‘big girls’ bed’ and also when she went to college. Naturally, parents of teens have already guessed that my daughter’s taste in bedding has diverged from the snowflake fleece of childhood beds. In short, it didn’t make the cut in the category of what fit into the car. Armed as I am, more recently, with competence in accepting my young adult daughter’s independence, this did not offend me. 

But the college bed, the making of that bed, this remained important to me, symbolic, a moment of life passage for us both.

For how many thousands and thousands of nights do we shepherd them to their room, tuck them in, read to them, kiss them goodnight, and snuggle with them in the nest of what becomes the quintessential “empty nest?” Or, when they finally hold these rituals back from the teenage door threshold, how many more nights do we simply say “goodnight” and “I love you?”

Did she appreciate my assistance as we wrestled with zipping the bed bug barrier around that damn XL twin mattress? Absolutely. We kept exploding with laughter as the unwieldy fabric foiled our façade that this was easy on any level. 

The loving and the relationship don’t stop with that move into college, by any means. Our young adult adult children still need our support in navigating the vagaries of university bureaucracy, online banking, and bicycle thieves, to name only a few. Nonetheless, making that bed for her, one more time, marked a moment as significant in my life as hers, one tangled with pride, love, and anxiety. 

From over 3,000 miles away, goodnight my dear one and sleep well.

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

Lobstermen and Russian Spy Satellites: “Hauling Through” Book Event

haulingthroughcoverIf you’re within striking distance of Peaks Island, Maine, then you should aim for the Peaks Island Branch Library’s book event with Peter Bridgford, author of Hauling Through, on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the MacVane Community Room.

After graduating from Bowdoin College, “Bridge” worked several commercial fishing boats, including on a processing ship in the Aleutians, a Maine lobsterboat, and on a longliner on the Grand Banks. As Captain of his own charter boat, he knows a thing or two about fishing and so it’s not surprising that he has chosen a fishing community for the setting of his newly published book, “Hauling Through.”

bridgfordreadingKestrel Cove, a tight-knit community of hardworking and hardheaded characters, provides the setting for Hauling Through. Bridge is quick to say, “My mother and my wife both implore me to take every opportunity to say that Hauling Through is not an autobiographic work!” What makes this lobsterfishing town unique?: the residents’ earnest belief that a Russian satellite cruises overhead every night to spy on them.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then that Jamie Kurtz, an underachieving graduate from a nearby private college, is closely watched and talked about when he gets a job on a lobsterboat. The synopsis promises that as he’s gradually accepted as one of Kestrel Cove’s own, he not only finds true love, but feels a belonging to something bigger than himself. Ultimately, he’s faced with the most difficult decision of his life – to stay or to go.

Things to do: Attend the Peaks Island Branch Library’s book event with Peter Bridgford, author of Hauling Through, on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the MacVane Community Room.

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

Tips from a Commuting Writer: Peter Bridgford and “Hauling Through”

bridgfordcaptain

Peter Bridgford, author and charter boat captain

You know all those articles about religiously rising early and sequestering yourself at a hallowed desk in order to achieve success as a writer? Nope, this is not one of those; consider this an ode to the literary road warrior, the “commuting writer.”

Most commuters busy themselves with avoiding coffee spills or with checking for pillow face and inside-out-shirts (speaking for myself, at least). But, year after year, I have watched Peter Bridgford, author of Hauling Through, use his commute across Portland Harbor more productively. Consequently, to me, he bears the standard for the “commuting writer’s” life.

I caught up with “Bridge,” as he’s known to Peaks Islanders, in between his duties captaining his own charter boat and vacationing with family on Monhegan Island. Yes, inexplicably, islanders go to other islands for vacations; I just went to North Haven for a getaway myself. Read on to see how Bridge advocates for a commuting writer’s life, a practice that makes writing more accessible for many of us, including me.

The ferry ride between Peaks Island and the mainland is almost the same length of time as the train ride commute I used to have in D.C., so I began to write on the boat. There’s one big difference from commuting in D.C.; however, and that is, when you’re on the ferry, you’re riding with friends and acquaintances, not complete strangers who want nothing more than to ignore you. So it’s common for the people in your section of the ferry to want you to be part of their commuting conversation. There’ve been many times that I knew that I was appearing rude, aloof, and downright strange to my fellow ferry riders as I religiously put on my headphones, opened my laptop, and began typing away, but the need to write was so strong that I decided I could live with those monikers. Most of my friends understood my odd behavior, and allowed me to have my time on the boat.

I think that the practice of writing on the subway and then the ferry have had two lasting impacts on me as an author. First off, I learned that I can write anywhere – subways, ferries, airports, train stations, buses, etc. Also, I saw that forty minutes a day is more than enough to get some good work done. The math is simple; 40 minutes a day, 200 minutes a work week, and 10,400 minutes a year! I know that some writers can be so daunted by the task of finding the perfect place and length of time to write that they actually block themselves as they search for those, but I feel fortunate that I now know that it can happen anywhere and in any amount of time you have.

As for how I embarked upon writing “Hauling Through,” I graduated from college without a clear career path in mind, and, for most of my twenties, I worked an assorted collection of diverse jobs in various locations with the most colorful of characters. Along the way, I sterned on a lobsterboat in a small isolated fishing community in Maine. I did not experience what Jamie Kurtz, the main character of my book, did in the fictional town of Kestrel Cove, but the kernel for my novel was looking back at my experiences in that small town and my attempts of being accepted by the people around me. Even moving to Peaks Island had some similar threads – being accepted by the other islanders, getting to know all of those other wacky people that chose to live on an island, and realizing there is a different set of norms and rules that exist on islands. I definitely see that the richness of the characters and the zaniness of the daily events on islands, in isolated communities, and aboard ships not only make for the perfect setting for novels, they are the perfect places for an exciting and rewarding life.

Things to do: Attend the Peaks Island Branch Library’s book event with Peter Bridgford, author of Hauling Through, on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the MacVane Community Room.

Written by Patricia Erikson, 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.

 

My Affair with Henry and the Photo Shoot that Followed

As the one who’s always behind the camera instead of in front of it, my need for a new, professional portrait crept up on me this year. Charmed by Sarah Beard Buckley Photography‘s beautiful 50 Mainers portraits in Maine Magazine, I craved how she created environmental shots that capture the intersection of sense of place with personal identity. Since my pulse centers on Portland, I wanted to choose from the many scenic or gritty or architecturally fascinating locations. But where? My mind traced the trails and cobblestone streets and wharves until my mental tour arrived at Congress Street and stopped at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house, the historic home museum of the Maine Historical Society. Yes, I’m talking about an affair with “Henry,” a Maine poet, dead for some 130 odd years now.

I discovered by age ten that “Henry” had seeped into my DNA. On a one-week forced hiatus from school, confined to bed with influenza, I decided to memorize the 88-line poem “Wreck of the Hesperus.”

It was the schooner Hesperus,
      That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
      To bear him company…
Those of you who know this poem know that the skipper probably shouldn’t have brought his little daughter. Things don’t end well for either of them “on the reef of Norman’s Woe.” Nonetheless, I was smitten by the melodrama of the trampling surf, sheeted ghost, bleak sea beach and the salt sea frozen on her breast (you really have to read it, it’s great stuff).
Weeks later, as a fifth grader, I performed the Wreck of the Hesperus in front of the whole school in what today we would call a poetry slam. Bruce Macomber’s intensely talented rendition of Casey at the Bat transported us all to Mudville and put me firmly in second place. (I forgive you now, Bruce).
Henry_Wadsworth_Longfellow,_photographed_by_Julia_Margaret_Cameron_in_1868

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Although I lost that competition, my affair with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow continued. My mother, Joan, a compulsive and passionate gardener, belonged to the Longfellow Garden Club, a volunteer non-profit since 1924 that maintained the garden once established by the Longfellow family. She donated hundreds of hours of her time to organize, research, weed, and plant a garden worthy of the house’s history. Before she passed away, she became the Club’s President, a position that honored and intimidated her in equal measure. My personal relationship to that garden deepened when I graduated from the Portland History Docent Program as a docent trained to give tours at the Longfellow House, a volunteer service that I loved.
So, yes, the photo shoot had to use the lovely newly-renovated and rejuvenated garden of the Longfellow House. Thank you, Maine Historical Society, for allowing the photo session and for taking care of this treasure.
SBeardBuckley_Patricia_Erikson-28lores

Patricia Pierce Erikson, at the “Children’s Gate” entrance to the Longfellow Garden

Things to do: Residents of Portland visitors alike love to take their bag lunch into the Longfellow Garden or catch some private moments for reading and writing in the lush oasis. On Thursday, August 4, 2016 the Garden will host a poetry reading event.
Written by Patricia Erikson, 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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