Carol Cartier and Sarah Goodman
Diamond Pass Publishing, 63pp, $13
A book of poetry that is germane to the interests of the Maine Harbors community of users is a rare bird indeed so when Ferry Ride arrived in the mail I was a tad dubious. Surprise! This unpretentious little volume is probably the smallest coffee table book around. The cover illustration, an oil painting of Casco Bay Ferry, Island Romance by Peaks Island artist, Paul Brahms is so utterly luscious that you'll want to leave the book on your coffee table so that you and yours can feast your eyes whenever you're nearby. The painting serves as an irresistible invitation to dive right into the text.
The concept of the book is the exchange of impressions and experiences of two women, both island dwellers as they go about their daily affairs-just as the Casco Bay Ferries travel between the islands and the mainland with their cargoes of busy minds.
The two poets, both refugees from an not-to-be-named state to the south met about six years ago on Peaks Island. (They both had separately determined to live on the island the minute they stepped off the ferry on their first visit.) Their shared love of place and interest in the arts was the initial basis of their friendship.
At the time, Carol Cartier was designing clothing and Sarah Goodman was editing text books. Goodman had been disenchanted with poetry until Cartier dreamt a poem and recited it to her friend. "I had thought poetry did not connect with people the way music and stories do. But I changed my concept of poetry as a dusty trophy…to poetry as a toy to play with, jewelry to wear, recipes to share," says Goodman. Their interest in exchanging poems began with Cartier's dream.
Over five years, the two poets considered more than 200 poems, winnowed them to ninety, and then chose thirty pairs. Cartier's series of birch-bark etchings was reproduced to decorate the pages. The book is laid out with complementary poems on facing pages alternating authorship and echoing subject matter, mood or texture. Cartier writes about a bowl, Goodman writes about a spoon. "Birch Bark" is followed by "Fingernail," "Empty Nester" by "Rain Noir."
The rhythm and details of island life are the focus of them all. The Poets cite many of the modern practitioners as inspiration-Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, for instance but I also hear Anne Bradstreet-the subjects of daily life-domesticity, community and the rapturous natural world are observed and reported in spare, plain-spoken language and often with a tincture of wry humor. "The book is a twenty minute ride on the ferry, a conversation you might have with a neighbor you don't know yet, ranging through life experiences," says Goodman.
Snippets of some of my favorites will convince you that you this collection of poems is as enjoyable as a good walk on a Maine island.
"A hangover day is/good for nothing/but watching dishes pile up in the sink,/watching clutter/conquer every surface/for wishing those brain cells/lost last night/would find their way home."
"Everyone here/feeds something,/even the sun's rays.//Who or what does the moon feed?/She feeds us waves."
"Poetry for Plums" and "Baby Painted Turtle" may be my favorite poems today but when I read the book again I may chose others. You'll have your own favorites. Ferry Ride is available now at Longfellow Books in Portland and soon at Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal. It can also be purchased directly from Sarah Goodman for $13. plus $1.50 shipping. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org