Castine, Maine, writes Jeanne Braham, is the place to both begin and to end an exploration of the life and work of the poet Philip Booth. Home to five generations of the Booth family, the coastal town was both working harbor and artists retreat, and Booth belonged as much to the craggy locals dockworkers, boat builders, and fishermen who weathered its harsh winters as to the literary luminaries who gathered there in summertime.
His poems came to depend, in immediate and sensory ways, on the geography of coastal Maine and the activities associated with living there: rowing boats, navigating through thick fog that obscured normal landmarks, recording the talk of wharf workers, splitting wood and methodically stacking it, writes Braham, who locates Booth s cadence, subject matter, and themes in the people, landscape, and history of Castine.
Mentored by Robert Frost and a close friend of Robert Lowell, Booth was an anchor for a circle of writers who gravitated to the mid-Maine coast for short and long visits Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Mary McCarthy, W. S. Merwin, and Maxine Kumin among them and Braham s recountings of their friendships and escapades open a window into a tremendously exciting time in late twentieth-century poetry.
Through research, careful readings of Booth s poetry, and interviews with his family and friends, Available Light offers an intimate and intelligent look into the life and writing of a major twentieth-century poet, one whose incandescent poems deserve to live and be shared."e;
Bauhan Publishing LLC
Philip Booth and the Gift of Place
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