Sunday, November 29, 2009

more 2009 booklists

Simon Pettet, poet, Hearth

Carl Jung - The Red Book
Gerrit Lansing - Heavenly Tree Northern Earth
Cecilia Vicuna (ed.) Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry
Bill Berkson - Portrait and Dream
Edmund Berrigan (ed.) - Selected Poems of Steve Carey

Charlotte Agell, young adult novels - Shift

Bo Caldwell - The Distant Land of My Father
Janice YK Lee - The Piano Teacher
Rebecca Stead - When You Reach Me
Marina Lewycka - Strawberry Fields

Michael Gizzi, poet - The New Depths of Deadpan

Bill Berkson - Portrait and Dream
Richard Holmes - Age of Wonder
Robin Kelly - Thelonious Monk
Keith Waldrop - Transcendental Studies
Brian Evenson - Last Days

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2009 book lists

Recently we emailed a number of writers who have read at the bookstore during the last year, are about to read at the store, or whose books we have featured this year. We asked them to list 5 books they have found wonderful/interesting/useful over the last year. We will list them here as they come in, so do please check back.

Debra Spark, novelist, Good For the Jews:

Dave Eggers - What is the What
Adrian Blevins - Live from the Homesick Jamboree
Michael Greenburg - Hurry Down Sunshine
Karen Shepard - Don't I Know You
David Shields - Reality Hunger

Clayton Eshleman, poet/translator - The Juniper Fuse:

Laura Solorzano - Lip Wolf
James Hillman - Animal Presence
Robert Kelly - Fire Exit
Novica Tadic - Assembly
Pierre Joris - Justifying the Margins

Karin Spitfire - poet - Standing With Trees:

Michael Harris - Lament for an Ocean
Carolyn Chute - The School at Heart's Content Road
Barbara Maria - Palace Boulevard
Ruth Moore - The Weir
Linda Hogan - People of the Whale

Bill Berkson, poet, Portrait and Dream: New and Selected Poems:

Curzio Malaparte - Kaputt
Aileen Ward - John Keats: The Making of a Poet
Morton Feldman - Words and Music, vols. 1 & 2 Musik Texte
Kenneth Koch - Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch
Isaiah Berlin - Russian Thinkers

Gary Lawless, Gulf of Maine Books co-owner:

Andrzej Stasiuk - Fado
Jonathan Skinner (editor) ecopoetics #6/7
Clayton Eshleman - The Juniper Fuse
Linda Hogan - People of the Whale
Ingrid Rowland - Giordano Bruno

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


One of my favorite books of 2009 is Fado, by Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk, translated by Bill Johnston and published by Dalkey Archive Press. Stasiuk says that he set out to write a "Slavic On The Road", and you can hear Kerouac in the first pages "Somewhere on the horizon are the fires of human settlements, indistinguishable from the distant glimmer of stars. Oh, the flickering artery of nothingness, oh the recollection of ancient times when we were homeless in the world, when space was terrifying in its immensity. Now it irks us with its elusiveness."
He takes us, thru a series of travel essays, on his road:Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, limestone karst, Accursed Mountains, Carpathians, Slovakia, Great Hungarian Plain...
"I always drift toward that part of the world... toward the hollows amid high ground, those narrow places in the landscape inhabited by forgotten people leading inconspicuous lives."
"I felt I was alone in the world, and this brought me joy. Beneath the dark night sky, amid the smell of cattle, somewhere at the end of the world, I was more aware of my own existence than ever before or ever again."
He tells us of places, but also of people, of authors (Danilo Kis, Bulatovic, Adam Bodor) and a Polish Pope (His face "looked like all of the faces to be found at markets, in village inns, at fairs and in buses leaving county towns for even smaller places. With the passage of time his face became the face of a peasant, the face of a wagon driver. It was as if in old age he were returning to his people."
The fado of the title refers to the style of Portuguese song, and a moment of hearing a Portuguese fado on the radio in Albania " the melancholy of the music and the melancholy of the town intermingled...and i thought to myself that Portugal is in a sense similar to Albania. Both lie at the edge of a landmass,at the edge of a continent, at the edge of the world. Both countries lead somewhat unreal lives beyond the main flow of history and events."
Stasiuk loves the Carpathians. He says: I've lived in the Carpathians for seventeen years, and I've learned to think of them as a separate country or even continent...To live in the Carpathians is to live in solitude and at the same time to have a sense of remote community."
He says that " an inhabitant of this part of the world looks back and sees the last few decades as a series of defeats, betrayals, and bloody experiments performed on the living organisms of societies. He looks back and doesn't find anything he can lean on. The past has been stolen, tarnished, ransacked...We emerged from nonexistence before we were able to find ourselves a form, a character, an identity precisely; but it turned out that we didn't need to do even this. It's enough to take on the grotesque gestures of contemporary mass culture for us to be instantly absorbed into the universal community of individuals living, playing, suffering and experiencing emotions all in exactly the same way."
Gypsies keep appearing in the narrative ."I thought about the Gypsies. Truth be told, I think about them often...Their presence disquiets me yet at the same time arouses my admiration" "They'd taken a shortcut here from the depths of times long gone, and they felt perfectly comfortable in the present.""Here is a dark skinned, unlettered people that for centuries has been passing through Europe and Europeanness as though these were poor, sparsely populated, unattractive lands. From time to time they come upon something they can make use of, but mostly it looks as though they already have all they need with them. Everything suggests that they've learned nothing from us and that they're unimpressed by the things we're so proud of."
Travelers. Stasiuk says "To travel is to live". and to read these essays is to travel with him for a short while, and to loive in new places, where he has lived.
We also now carry three works of fiction by Stasiuk: Nine, White Raven, and Tales of Galicia.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

December reading at Gulf of Maine

On Sunday, December 6, at 3 PM, novelist Debra Spark and poet/translator Michael Gizzi will read at Gulf of Maine Books.
Debra Spark will read from her new novel Good for the Jews, published by the University of Michigan Press. She has previously published two novels and a collection of essays about fiction writing, and directs the creative writing program at Colby College as well as teaching in the Warren Wilson College MFA program for creative writers.
Michael Gizzi will be reading from his new book of poems New Depths of Deadpan, from Burning Deck publishers. We also have in stock two other collections of his poetry: My Terza Rima (the figures) and Continental Harmony (Roof Books) as well as his translations of contemporary Italian poet Milli Graffi in Embargoed Voice (also from Burning Deck) He currently teaches at Roger Williams University.

Here is a fall poem from Michael Gizzi's new book New Depths of Deadpan :

Autumn By Ear

Scent of the sun under things
first of all things
last as well
a belief that life is all smiles
and bleeds
during which little or nothing is achieved

The King of Dust shuts the door
at the end the ear is spoken for

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lew Welch

I love Lew Welch's poems. I keep hoping that he will come back into the poetry conversation in this country, and maybe he is. Last week on Sunday Tony Hoagland, giving a poetry reading for River Arts in Damariscotta, mentioned Lew's poem Step Out Onto The Planet. Less than 24 hours later the poet Bill Berkson, reading at Gulf of Maine Books, mentioned Lew's poem Olema Satori.This week I bought the new DVD documentary One Fast Move or I'm Gone - Kerouac's Big Sur and watched it, knowing that Lew would appear. There he was, in a photo with Kerouac, and mentioned in the narration, having driven Kerouac down from San Francisco to Big Sur, and figuring in Kerouac's novel.
I first read Lew Welch in 1971, discovering him in Jim Koller's magazine Coyote's Journal. I arrived at Gary Snyder's home in California in the spring of 1973, too late for Lew. (Lew and Philip Whalen had been Snyder's housemates and poetry brothers at Reed College). Lew had come to Snyder's ridge land in 1971, hoping to build a cabin, but carried with him his alcohol demons. He walked into the woods, with a gun, leaving behind a note, and his belongings. I got to drive his jeep, but I never got to meet Lew. He did leave behind wonderful poems, and I still hope that people will discover his Ring of Bone - Collected Poems 1950-1971 for the treasure that it is.

Step out onto the planet.
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.

Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands and, maybe
nobody's ever seen.

How many can you find?

Lew Welch