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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.

 

Mira Ptacin: 3 Tips for Busy Mothers Who Write

miraMira Ptacin is one of the busiest writers you’ll ever meet. Newly a mom for the second time, Ptacin juggles a successful writing career with island motherhood. She carries this off with such grace and good humor, I invited her to share her top three tips for writers who are juggling their creative writing business with the heart-work of motherhood. Here are her nuggets:

  • Strive for harmony, rather than productivity. It will make your writing more clear and strong.
  • Kids offer you great dialogue. Write down what they say, and use it for your stories!
  • Prioritize sleep, but keep a notebook by your bed.

You’re not going to want to miss her reading of newly-published Poor Your Soul (Soho Press) at the famed independent bookstore Longfellow Books Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 7 PM.

pooryoursoulAbout Ptacin, Kate Manning (Author of My Notorious Life) wrote: “In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Melissa Coleman, Mira Ptacin has written a funny and deeply moving memoir of loss, love, and redemption. Poor Your Soul is a story of an American family as unique and loving as any you’d wish to meet, and you’ll be caught up in a gripping narrative, as Ptacin writes of her wild girlhood, her enterprising parents, the confusions of love and sex, and the brave choices women make, following their own good instincts. Elegaic and wise, Poor Your Soul is, ultimately, about the strength of the human spirit.”    

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.

Where Munjoy Hill Memories Meet Masts of Tall Ships

 

Spanish Galleon Andalucia

 I have decided to watch the Tall Ships Parade of Sail from a corner of Portland most meaningful to me-Munjoy Hill. Here my Irish and French Canadian grandparents found a welcoming neighborhood to raise their two children. Here, a narrow strip of sand-East End Beach- fringes the toe of the Hill. I try to imagine the bathhouses and ugly wool bathing “suits” of my mother’s stories. With the legion of boats navigating the harbor today, I remember her stories of World War II war ships clogging the harbor and then disappearing during the blackout-curtained night.

From this lofty vantage point of Portland’s spine, it’s not hard to see why Lemuel Moody chose this as the site for building his Observatory, the multi-story wooden tower now one of Portland’s beloved historic landmarks.
 

Historic illustration of the Observatory

 This octagonal tower plays an important role in scenes from a manuscript that I’m editing this summer. My Jimmy Brackett middle grade reader tells the story of the Confederate Invasion of Portland Harbor in 1863. The Observatory hoisted flags to announce the approach of ships – carrying passengers and cargo – who were still approaching the harbor from many miles out to sea. I won’t divulge more of the drama around the caper of mistaken identities or the ship stealing that characterizes this novel. I will say that, unless you’re on board a boat, there’s no better place for viewing a Parade of Tall Ships or spotting Confederate pirates than Munjoy Hill and the top of the Portland Observatory. 

Ceiling of the Observatory’s dome

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.

Scott Nash takes Blue Jay the Pirate to South China, Maine

Blue Jay the Pirate

Blue Jay the Pirate, Scott Nash

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

10:30-11:30 AM

South China Public Library, South China, Maine

According to the National Park Service, "The Blue Willow pattern was introduced in England by the Spode factory in the late 1790s. During the 18th century Europe was fascinated by all things Chinese and especially their beautifully hand-painted china with scenes of Chinese landscapes. The Blue Willow pattern is not an exact copy of a Chinese pattern but rather based on several traditional Chinese designs."

According to the National Park Service, “The Blue Willow pattern was introduced in England by the Spode factory in the late 1790s. During the 18th century Europe was fascinated by all things Chinese and especially their beautifully hand-painted china with scenes of Chinese landscapes. The Blue Willow pattern is not an exact copy of a Chinese pattern but rather based on several traditional Chinese designs.”

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