I am honored to have my photography included in this poetry collection. —Sharon
April is Poetry Month, and a great time for poets to shine.
Luckily, we have good poets in Gloucester who are willing and able to share their work and dower the world, as Emily Dickinson suggested.
Emily, not always the humble maiden she is pictured to be, wrote of her poems: “I put my pleasure all abroad/ I dealt a word of Gold/ To every Creature that I met/ And Dowered all the world.”
I am happy to announce some words of gold, a new book, “Salt and Light: An Anthology of Gloucester Poetry,” that features Gloucester’s best, most authentic poetry — by Gloucester’s residents writing in and about Gloucester.
“Salt and Light” is a real community effort, bringing poetry out of the self-reverence of the coffee house and into the neighborhoods of the wider city.
The new book is beautiful, thanks to Sharon Lowe’s photography, and features among others Pat Lowery Collins, Rufus Collinson, Joeseph Featherstone, myself, Stephen Scotti, Nancy Seidman, Peter Todd and Frances Wosmek. It also presents Pam Mansfield, winner of the Quarterdeck Poetry Contest, and finalists Amber Gailitis, Neal Kleindienst, and Lydia Priest.
Perhaps more importantly, “Salt and Light” features student poetry. The student poems continue a long tradition of civic poetry in Gloucester.
For many years the Ingalls Prize Poems from the high school were published annually. (I am grateful to Susan Richardson for providing a copy from the 1950s — good stuff!).
The high school tradition continues in “The Elicitor” under James Cook’s editorship. Sawyer Library, too, has published poetry, short stories and fiction over the years. Uniquely Gloucester celebrated our 375th anniversary in 1998 and the library continues to publish poetry, in both print and on line.
The students in “Salt and Light” are: Kathy Cusumano, Kate Bresnahan, Andrew Bergeron, Heather Boudrow, Emma Chandler, Alexandra McKay, Samantha Turner, Kaitlin Nicolosi, Billy O’Donnell, Britany Diamondt, Erin McManus, Phoebe Weissblum, Kazira Slocum, Alexandra Lees, Lydia Anderson, Aidan Breen, Jordan Gentile, Meghaen Favazza and Lucina Fox.
The proof that “Salt and Light” is a real community effort lies in one amazing fact: It is free. Distribution, beginning with a presentation to the City Council on April 13 and a reception April 23 at the Rose Baker Senior Center, will be through Mayor Kirk’s office, Sawyer Free Library, and the senior center. If you are housebound, send $2 for postage and packaging to Box 5524, Gloucester, MA 01930.
The city is indebted to the public spirit of all the sponsors of “Salt and Light,” those who make it both possible and free. At the top of the list is the Gloucester Cultural Council, which gave two separate grants toward publication.
The Friends of the Council on Aging were generous in both publication and in planning the book’s launch.
All the other sponsors deserve our gratitude, too. Thank them.
They are: Coco Berkman, Deo Braga and the Azorean Restaurant, the Rev. Lyn Brakeman, Cape Ann Savings, Chisholm and Hunt Printers, Gregg Sousa and The Crow’s Nest, Family Therapy Associates, Fred Cowan, Dr. Richard Gardner, Sharon Lowe, Michael McNamara and Precision Painting, Rockport National Bank, Arthur Ryan, Steve Dexter and Carroll Steele Insurance.
Come to the party! An official reception and book signing, and a chance to meet the authors, will be held Friday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Baker Center. “All the world” is invited.
John Ronan is poet laureate for the city of Gloucester.
Don’t forget the Fishermen’s Wives contest for Gloucester residents! Send entries to Box 5524, Gloucester, MA 01930.
For students, the Poetry Without Paper contest is running. Go to Sawyer Free Library’s Web site for details.
— John Ronan