Sturge: A Memoir

Edited by Sanford Phippen

Privately published, 2014

304 pages, large format paperback, $30

 

Sanford Phippen has been one of the brighter lights on Maine’s literary radar screens for 40 years or more. He has devoted copious energy to magazine and newspaper articles and lectures that call attention to Maine writers other than himself, and in his recently published book “Sturge: A Memoir,” we get a true labor of Phippen love.

“Sturge” is a whirlwind compilation of letters, articles, journal entries, Internet blogs, photos and recollections of Sturgis Haskins, a native of Down East Maine who was, as Carl Little says in the book’s preface, “a sailor, a snoop, a pioneer of gay rights, a writer and raconteur, a crack croquet player and historian.” And a personality who made an indelible mark on everyone he met.

Highest among Haskins’ many Renaissance-man type profiles was his involvement in Maine’s gay rights movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was present at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on the night in June 1969 when the gay rights movement emerged, and went on to be a co-founder, with Karen Bye and others, of the University of Maine Wilde-Stein Club and an organizer of the first Maine Gay Symposium in 1974.

Phippen’s compilation, culled from decades of personal correspondence and other writings and collections donated to the Maine Historical Society and similar institutions, brings into focus Haskins’ diverse personalities as writer, activist, sailor and local government gadfly that, by this and many accounts, enriched all who knew him in Hancock County and beyond, right to the day of his death in September 2012.

Phippen has worked hard for decades to put meaningful Down East perspectives onto our literary radars through his own books (“The Police Know Everything,” “Cheap Gossip” and others) and as host of MPBN’s “A Good Read” series and editor (following Constance Hunting’s death in 2006) of Puckerbrush Review, among many other literary activities. His latest fascinating, irreverent and timely effort, in “Sturge,” ensures that the memory of a Mainer worth remembering will be preserved.

Phippen will speak about and sign copies of “Sturge” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 7 at the Glickman Family Library, University of Southern Maine in Portland. For information call 780-4269 or email [email protected] The book is available by writing to Sanford Phippen, 566 East Side Road, Hancock, ME 04640, or to [email protected]

Dana Wilde writes the Backyard Naturalist column for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and runs the Parallel Uni-Verse website for Maine poetry at www.dwildepress.net/universe. Please contact him at [email protected] with news of Maine books and literary events.