Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers

A quick few words this week on three books recently received into the Off Radar stacks in the sleepy, reading town of Troy.

The Solon Center for Research and Publishing’s most recent volume is “Coastal Maine in Words and Art,” a nicely crafted art book in collaboration with the Fukurou Gallery in Rockland. The Solon Center’s publishing arm, Polar Bear & Co., put out a writers RFP (request for proposal) for works responding to the black and white photographic art of Yorozuya Yohaku and color art of Ramona du Houx, and received from its contacts a variety of short fiction and nonfiction. The result is this selection together with corresponding images.

Represented, for example, is John Holt Willey, of Waterville, offering a heartfelt recollection of his mother’s life as an amateur painter; characteristic of Willey’s writing, it’s warmly humorous and touching. Lee Heffner’s prose poem “Moonrise” juxtaposes a rumination on Greek myth with Yohaku’s “Sunrise.” Sandra Sylvester’s “Waves Have No End” is an ekphrastic, or descriptive, piece on du Houx’s “By the Sea.” There are 22 entries in all.

This is a nice little gallery-style book with well-made reproductions of the art. It’s available through the Fukurou Gallery  and online book sellers.

The Cafe Review Vol. 30, Fall 2019

The fall 2019 issue of “The Cafe Review”  has an all-Maine focus, with some of this state’s most interesting and talked-about poets represented. Patricia Smith Ranzoni’s “Next Spring, Or, If February Wouldn’t Pass” is characteristically riveting for its unusual evocative force; her poetry goes very, dizzyingly deep. Richard Foerster’s “Lavabo” reflects his ongoing mastery of English sound and rhythm (“Begin again: cup the faucet’s allegretto in your hands, / try to lather it into light while your eyes stay clamped”). I was knocked out by Carl Little’s wry “End Times” (“There it is again, dark thought”) and by Annie Seikonia’s “Vena Cava” (“in my vena cava / the surgeon found nanoscopic / relics of Portland”). Too many good poets and poets to name, but other contributors include Thomas MooreLee Sharkey,  former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl, Elizabeth Tibbetts, Kenneth Rosen, still offering fluid verse in the evening of his long literary career, Linda Buckmaster, Martin Steingesser, Mark Melnicove and many others.

Jim Bishop, of Bangor, gives a heartfelt review of “Quarry: The Collected Poems of Peter Kilgore,” (as well as contributing two poems), and there are reviews of Foerster’s “Boy on a Doorstep” and, by Jeri Theriault,  of Mike Bove’s “Big Little City.”

There’s a healthy (I use this word advisedly) selection of Maine artwork in this issue, too, very well reproduced as usual. “Boy With a Question” is a characteristically disturbing image by Michael Waterman, and Sheila Geoffrion’s “Jewel Weed in Loosestrife” is a backyard naturalist’s dream, just to mention two that really captured my eyes, among many.

Copies of TCR are available through thecafereview.com/shop/.

Half-Hull Modeling

For the boat builders and lovers in your house, there’s my neighbor Greg Rossel’s most recent guide to constructing seagoing vessels, “Half-Hull Modeling.” In this book we learn not how to build the boat itself, as in his other books, but how to build a model of your boat. His relaxed, good-humored, yet crystal clear prose walks you through the reasons you might want to build a model (to clarify the fine points to be encountered in actual construction, or just to produce a nice-looking work of art) and the process itself.

Rossel has been a prominent member of Maine’s boat-building community for decades, and his other books, including “Building Small Boats,” “The Boatbuilder’s Apprentice” and “Kayaks You Can Build” come highly recommended therein. Copies of “Half-Hull Modeling” are available through book stores, online book sellers and WoodenBoat’s website.

Off Radar takes note of poetry and books with Maine connections the first and third Thursdays of each month. Dana Wilde is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Contact him at [email protected]