Ruth Mordecai, Eponymous.

by Bing McGilvray

Ruth Mordecai’s new, eponymous book is cause for celebration. A visual feast and a triumphant testament, it is a summation of her life’s work at age 80. She had just left Torah class at Temple Ahavat Achim when we sat down for a light lunch at the Sandpiper Bakery on Middle Street. In person, Ruth radiates the same confidence and compassion that can been seen in her paintings and sculpture. We talked about her art, living and working in Gloucester and much more. You are invited to listen in.

B. First of all, this book is magnificent. A great achievement. Where can folks get a copy?

R. Trident Gallery and The Bookstore, both on Main Street in Gloucester, are selling it. Or, just get one from me, the artist.

B. The cost is $125 because of the abundance of high-quality reproductions and a very limited run. How many copies did you print?

R. Only 125.

B. Run me through the process you took, looking back over a lifetime of work and editing it down.

R. In about 2014, I did a series called The Container Series. They were big paintings and I threw into them a lot of the symbols that I have used over time. Maybe it was a ladder relating to the story of Jacob’s Ladder. Horizon lines from some of the landscapes I’ve done. Or apples from earlier paintings. I threw it all in and I felt I was beginning to summarize what I’ve done. But the thing that was missing for me was, how do people know what motivated me to do these containers – what are the origins?

B. I see.

R. The biggest thing I wanted from this book was to have something for my children and grandchildren. I also wanted to make it for the museums and individuals that collected my work and my community.

At the same time, at Temple, there was a group that met around creating an ‘ethical will’ – and what is an ‘ethical will’? It is what you leave to tell your children or your closest loved ones, a personal written memoir. I was approaching 80, a sort of landmark thing, and I thought if I don’t do it now, it’s not going to happen. There were other factors too.

Trump came in. I felt that anything that had a portion of  ‘the other’ needed emphasis. The Jewish part of my work is very important to me to express. I sensed this creeping anti-Semitism coming back. It wouldn’t matter if I were Mexican or Muslim or anything. It’s coming from this same place of being ‘other’. So that motivated me with the book.

B. Yes, I think it’s motivating many of us these days. I hope so.

R. At heart, I am a teacher. There aren’t as many artists now coming from a figurative tradition. I wanted to describe the journey from the figurative to abstraction in a way that people might be able to understand it. And I also wanted other artists to know that they can do this too.

Most people think you’ve got to have a book from Abrams Publishing. That assumes you’ve got a major gallery and have had a major museum show.

I thought, why can’t I make a book that’s equivalent to that and do it the way I want? Why not? My designer was wonderful, Meredith Anderson, who’s at the Cape Ann Museum. She had a connection to a publisher that specializes in art books. Charlie Carroll, a wonderful guy from Gloucester, made sure all the photography was ready for printing. So it was all done right here in Gloucester. I took six months and just got it done.

B. The end result is fantastic. I think it’s everything you set out to do … and beyond. Tell me about the text.

R. The two people who have written about my work (Judith Tolnick Champa and Ori Z. Soltes), I knew before. I felt they knew my work. So, I wasn’t looking for someone who was necessarily a museum person, although they both are in their ways. They have known my work over a long period of time.

B. Two distinctly different voices. And you.

R. My ‘Artist Statement’ I’m very proud of. It took a long time to get it down to one page. But it is what I wanted to say. Fifty years in one page but I’m very pleased with it.

B. Fifty years in one book is an accomplishment too. As a record of your life and work, it’s very clear and powerful; your journey and its metamorphosis through time and place and experience. Like all exploratory artists, there is always something of your previous work in the new work. It’s evolutionary in that sense.

R. There was a book I saw. You walked right into it. The artist was front and center. Pictures of the artist in the studio before you got to the work. That was something I wanted to do.

B. Where was the cavernous space, the black & white photo at the start of the book?

R. That was 249 A Street in Boston. That’s where my studio was for 25 years, before I came to Gloucester.

B. That’s the question I really want to ask. Why did you come to Gloucester?

R. Well, for one thing, I met my husband Ed (Powers). He was coming from New York and I was in the studio in Boston. It was a live/work space.

B. This was the Fort Point Studios right?

R. Right, Fort Point. We tried living there for a few years and at some point we bought a house in Gloucester with the idea that we could rent it out while we stayed in Boston. That’s not exactly the correct sequence of events. Before that, a friend let us use her house for a few days a week. It was summertime. We fell in love with the place.

B. How long have you been on Rocky Neck?

R. Since 1999. Almost 20 years.

B. Tell me about Rocky Neck. Supposedly, it’s America’s Oldest Art Colony. Anyway, it is unique. I don’t know of another place quite like it.

R. Well, Provincetown was but …

B. That’s gone now. There are many regional art enclaves throughout the country. What makes Gloucester so unique, Rocky Neck, in particular, is that it has real artist presence existing alongside a working waterfront. On Cape Ann, the artists aren’t separate from the community. They are ingrained in the fabric of life here. A vital part of it. It’s been that way for over 150 years.

Trident Gallery, Gloucester. August 2018

R. It’s not just visual artists but writers, dancers, musicians, and theatre. Pretty amazing how many talented people are here.

B. Creative people are a major part of the city’s economic engine. Most citizens are aware that it is about art here as well as maritime. Artists are accepted and welcome. Most people here know an artist or two. I hope Gloucester never loses that but sometimes I worry.

R. Rocky Neck has been changing. We are threatened with development.  I’m not sure what the forecast is. We have lots of energy now about our Board and community and sharing our exciting programs. Certainly, we still have serious artists there. We are connected to the whole Gloucester community.

B. Cape Ann is an artist’s island. Was Fort Point your first studio?

R. No, actually when my kids were 5 and 7, I got a place in Watertown. The first studio was over the garage. Then when the kids were in school, a group of us formed a collective, right on the river in one of those old brick buildings.

B. I grew up right across the river in Brighton.

R. Oh. OK. Well, we were on California Street.

B. I know it well.

R. After I was there 4 or 5 years, Fort Point started to happen. I became a member of an artist’s group, Boston Visual Artists Union. We were interested in live/work space. All these buildings on the waterfront on the edge of South Boston were becoming available at that time. We bought the building for one million dollars, 70,000 square feet. There was a great deal of resistance at the time because we were all liberals and …

B. Hippies?

R. Yes. Hippies. South Boston was very conservative.

B. Uptight Irish Catholic. That’s my background. It’s disappearing now, I think.

R. Oh, it’s changed so much.

B. Is it still there, your building?

R. Oh yes. There are two or three buildings where the artists own their own space are still there.

B. It happens all the time. Artists move into low rent, abandoned areas and the gentrifiers soon follow, pricing artists out.

R. People came there first because it was artsy. Then they drove everyone out.

B. Your recent show at Trident Gallery was wonderful. Was it meant to coincide with the release of the book?

R. I finished the work for Trident six months before the show, so it could be photographed and that would be the last chapter of the book.

B. I see.

Trident Gallery, Gloucester. August 2018

R. Secondly, there are several works that really relate to stories in Jewish … are they Old Testament stories, Biblical stories? One of them is totally mystical. The piece that has the four prongs –

B. The Missing Letters.

R. The Missing Letters series. That’s a result of our present political struggles. It’s similar to the belief of the Messiah coming. When the mystical letter appears there will be no more repression and we will be loving. So, that’s my way of dealing with what’s going on now. It pushed me into that series.

Finally, these pieces are hopeful.

The one with the letters floating above it … those are Hebrew letters. One is an Aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Another is Chi, which means life. The third is Bet, which means home.

The story revolves around a rabbi who was very special to the people and his congregation. It was during the time of the Crusades. The Crusaders wrapped the rabbi in the Torah and lit it on fire. His parishioners were just going crazy, crying, ‘What will we do without you? What’s going to happen without you and the Torah?’ And the rabbi says ‘Do not fear – the letters are going up to God.’ OK? Well … it was something that grabbed me.

B. Wow. I can see why.

R. It became the basis for the piece which – but you don’t even need to know that. Maybe I shouldn’t …

B. It’s a very powerful story. But the work stands on its own.

R. There are some mono-prints. I love collage. I cut up and pasted some mono-print forms. Two of those, black & white. And another one, more painterly, with the apples.

B. Yes, tell me about the apples. It’s a recurring theme. Anything to do with Adam and Eve?

R. No. Nothing. We had apple trees in my backyard growing up. Eddie, the man who worked there, he and I would go out and shake the tree, put all the apples in baskets, bring them in to my mother. She would make apple pie, applesauce and the house would smell wonderful.

B. Another great story. Let’s see, anything else you want to add in conclusion?

R. No. I’m just thrilled it’s done. Thrilled you are interested.

B. The thrill is all mine. Thanks, Ruth.

For more information on Ruth Mordecai visit: ruthmordecai.com or tridentgallery.com

Ruth Mordecai. © 2018 Bing

  Bing McGilvray is an artist, flaneur, and raconteur living in Gloucester.

Ralph Coburn, an Artist’s Artist

Peter Anastas

Paris Landscape. n.d.

Painter and long-time Lanesville resident, Ralph Coburn, who died on June 5th in Miami at the age of 94, was an artist’s artist.  This is not to say that his “spare, beautiful, abstract art,” (Boston Globe) wasn’t appreciated by the many who came to view it at the Cape Ann Museum, Wellesley College, the Arts Club of Chicago, David Hall Gallery, or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where Coburn’s innovative, geometric paintings were exhibited.   Rather, it denotes the deep appreciation that Coburn’s unique abstractions received from those who best understood the thought behind them and how they were part of an ongoing attempt of American painters to move beyond the dominant Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s.   Yet Coburn, whose work ethic was memorable and whose knowledge of art, from the frescos of Masaccio in Florence to Ellsworth Kelly’s bright, elemental abstractions, was extensive, did not insert himself into the art world in the manner of today’s careerists.

“Not enough people know about Coburn’s work, which is spare, beautiful, witty, and uncannily satisfying,” Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe art critic, wrote in 2010. “Coburn himself, I’ve been told, is modest to a fault, which is no doubt one reason why we don’t know more about him.”

Sea Study. 1985    Courtesy of Cape Ann Museum

I can attest to Ralph’s modesty. We met in 1986 while doing our laundry at the laundromat in Dunkin Donuts plaza in downtown Gloucester.  I might have been reading a book that Ralph commented on, or maybe it was the other way around.  A conversation began that ended with the last item of clothing removed from the drier and was taken up again the following Friday; for it was invariably on Friday mornings that we met to do the week’s wash, two aging men talking excitedly about Gertrude Stein or the latest recording of Bartok’s Quartets, while children ran between our legs and their mothers sat smoking and thumbing through tattered copies of People.   One of the most surprising moments of those early talks was our discovery that we had both been in Florence at the same time; in fact, our paths had nearly crossed in the Tuscan hill town of Settignano, where I was then living and Ralph had come to visit my neighbor, artist Susan Nevelson, daughter-in-law of the sculptor Louise Nevelson.

As far as I knew from what Ralph had disclosed, he was at the point of retiring from a job in graphic design at MIT, where he had been an architecture student before the war.  It took a long time before I learned that Ralph was actually a painter, who had been close to a group of post-war artists in Boston, many of whom had studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, including Ellsworth Kelly, Bernard Chaet, and Ninon Lacey.

Landscape Distallation. 1950

It turned out that Ralph was also friends with James Mellow, the Gloucester born biographer of Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, and Ernest Hemingway, whom I had met through playwright John Coyle, who spent his summers in the family home on Church Street.  Mellow and his partner Augie Capaccio had a summer cottage nearby Ralph’s home and studio in the former Folly Cove Designers barn overlooking Folly Cove.  Soon we were gathering for drinks and dinner at each other’s houses, joined by Mellow’s cousin Dr. June Mellow, a retired clinical psychologist and avid reader, and clinical social workers Peter Parsons and Helane Harris.

Those dinners became a summer routine, a night on John’s deck on Church Street, or at Augie and Jim’s, or at our house where Peter and Maria Denzer, our friends from Houston, MN prepared an unforgettable seafood risotto and the talk ranged from who was doing what in art to Mellow’s National Book Award for his biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which reviewer John Updike had called “the finest biography ever written” about the novelist of Salem’s dark secrets.

If Ralph had been modest about his art, which we were finally to experience when we were invited to his house for dinner, he was even more modest about his cooking.   That first night—there would be many others—Ralph, who had spent a great deal of time in France, prepared a fish soup of white fish in a clear broth with fresh vegetables and herbs.  Everyone pronounced it “exquisite.”  But that was only the prelude to the dishes that Ralph would cook for us on subsequent evenings.

Ralph and I shared a love of Modernist music, not to exclude Mahler, and the novels of Andre Gide.  Ralph was also a lifelong jazz fan, having spent countless nights at George Wein’s Storyville Club in Boston, while a student at MIT and later working at Boris Mirski’s gallery of vanguard art on Newbury Street. He greatly admired the playing of another Gloucester native, trumpeter and orchestra leader Herb Pomeroy.

What Ralph did not talk about much was his art—he merely did it, carefully and painstakingly, day after day, year after year, without the thought of recognition.  It was thrilling to see the paintings emerge.

Thinking back to the time we spent together, which now seems never to have been enough, I remember most our laundromat days, when we talked non-stop about art and life, while our clothing whirled in the driers and the children ran and jumped around us.

Ralph Coburn 1950

Ralph Coburn and his niece Carol C. Metcalfe. 2011

 

 

Peter Anastas, editorial director of Enduring Gloucesteris a Gloucester native and writer. His most recent book, A Walker in the City: Elegy for Gloucester, is a selection from columns that were published in the Gloucester Daily Times.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Charlie Movalli

Dennis Poirier

To celebrate the Cape Ann Museum’s exhibition Charles Movalli: Cape Ann & Beyond,  we asked Dennis Poirier to share some thoughts on his mentor and friend. 

The entrance to the Charles Movalli exhibition              at the Cape Ann Museum

I met Charlie for the first time on the steps of the gallery of Aldro Hibbard, in Rockport.  I was at that time renting the house from Mrs. Hibbard. It was a perfect place to meet him really. I moved to Maine soon after and it was to be many years later, in 2000, that I would see him again.

I was now showing at Bird’s Nest gallery in Bar Harbor, Maine. I had been painting with Mike Graves, and a group from Gloucester came up to paint too. The group included Dale Ratcliff, Carleen Muniz, Ramona Murray and a few others. Charlie came up in the fall of that season, when we all had dinner in October. Dale contacted me that she wanted to buy one of my small paintings of Gloucester that had been at Bird’s Nest gallery because it caught Charlie’s eye. I was thrilled that he wanted to own one of my paintings!  A few months later, I was at a show at the Rockport Art Association and he told me that he loved having it in his “Gloucester” collection. I was so pleased to hear that.

Gloucester Harbor © Dennis Poirier.           Purchased by Charles Movalli in 2000

I invited Dale and Charlie to come up to Maine and visit a local artist named Charles Andres. Dale told me that Charlie really enjoyed that visit since he was such a terrific writer of art history. Mr. Andres was a student of the great Harvey Dunn. He also had helped out on the book about Dean Cornwell. In his home he had original works by Dunn, Von Schmidt, and many beautiful Dean Cornwell paintings and drawings.  Charles Andres work was also on his walls of course.  I loved going to visit him, so I enjoyed sharing this with my art friends too! Don Stone also enjoyed meeting Charles Andres. It was like a museum of Golden age illustration!

Charlie and Dale once took me to breakfast after I had been rejected from the Rockport Art Association, in 2001 or 2002. Charlie predicted that I would win awards at Rockport and he turned out to be right. I have won more times at Rockport than at North Shore Arts in Gloucester where I grew up!

In 2013, I fell and broke my right wrist. I taught myself to paint left handed during my recovery. When Charlie broke his right arm my pal Caleb told him how I had painted lefty. Charlie emailed me and I told him, “Yes, try it!”  Sadly, it was my last email from him.

I was pretty blown away when Dale sent me a Christmas card with that final painting he worked on with his left hand. I enjoyed seeing it in the show at Cape Ann.

Heading for Port © 2016 Charles Movalli.                    This is Charles last painting, done with his left hand.

Just one thing more: Being half Sicilian (my mom was a Scandalito) I have what I like to call my Italian connection of artists, now all passed away— Joseph Santoro , Salvatore Grasso, Rudy Colao, and of course Charlie Movalli. All these men were very supportive, helpful and inspiring to me and all were good friends.  I sure miss them all.

Dennis Poirier

 

Dennis Poirier grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The colors, sights, and sounds of the busy port and fishing fleet inspired Dennis to paint.
Dennis began his studies in high school and then went to Butera School of Art in Boston. He returned to Cape Ann to become the first student studying the Atelier System with John C. Terelak and Ted Goerschner at the newly formed Gloucester Academy of Fine Arts.  Later he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League, winning the Charles J. Romans Memorial Award at his very first national exhibit at the Allied Artists of America Show. Dennis is a member of the North Shore Arts Association, and Rockport Art Association.

 

At the Cape Ann Museum on Saturday, April 22 at 2 p.m., a panel discussion, moderated by Sinikka Nogelo, artist and former host of the Cape Ann Report, and including friends, students and colleagues of Charles Movalli, will reflect on his amazing life and career. Panelists will include T.M. Nicholas, Mike Graves, Dennis Poirier, Charles Shurcliff, Marilyn Swift and Tom Gill.

Gloucester Native Anna Solomon Publishes Novel Set in her Home Town

leaving lucy pear Anna Solomon

By Miriam Weinstein

When Anna Solomon began to weave together ideas and images for her second novel, Leaving Lucy Pear (published in July 2016 by Viking), her upbringing in Gloucester played a very large part.

“I loved growing up in Gloucester,” she says. And, although as an adult she has lived in Providence and now lives in New York City, “it is still my home, and it is still embedded in me. I feel I could write about it until I die.”

Indeed, the natural and the man-made landscape of the place, as well as its history, figure prominently in this story about motherhood, choices, consequences, and discovering one’s true nature. It begins in the 1920s when a well-to-do young Jewish woman leaves her newborn baby to be found under a pear tree on Eastern Point. It follows the baby, the woman who left her, and the woman who found her. So yes, this is very much a work of imagination. But locals will recognize the intimate descriptions of this very particular milieu.

Because of her Cape Ann connections, Solomon was able to tap into local historical expertise. Sarah Dunlap, co-author of The Jewish Community of Cape Ann, pointed her to historical archives. Barbara Erkkila, historian of the granite industry, described how it felt to be a child on Cape Ann in the early years of the 20th century. Erik Ronnberg’s knowledge of the history of the fishing industry helped her to work through a plot problem.

Solomon’s Jewish upbringing on Cape Ann also played a large role. “The Jewish community is a very, very tight and supportive local community,” she says. “The synagogue (Temple Ahavat Achim) for me felt like a second home. Because it was small, and people came from all over, there were many different kinds of Jews there. It showed me, at least as a child, a lot of ways to be Jewish.”

In addition to Leaving Lucy Pear, Solomon is the author of a previous novel, The Little Bride, and Anna Solomonco-editor with Eleanor Henderson of Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.

Solomon will speak about Leaving Lucy Pear at the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library on Thursday, October 13 at 7 p.m., and at the Boston Book Festival, on Saturday, October 15, at 10:45 a.m., at the Boston Public Library.

(This review also appeared in the Jewish Journal).

 

Miriam WeinsteinMiriam Weinstein is a writer who lives in Gloucester. Her latest book, just released, is All Set For Black, Thanks: A New Look At Mourning. She is also the author of The Surprising Power of Family Meals, and Yiddish: A Nation of Words.

The Mystery of Winslow Wilson

Wilson eyes

Who was this artist who lived and worked in the shadows for many years in Rockport and Gloucester, and why should we on Cape Ann be interested in his life and work?

Arthur William Wilson (July 20, 1892 – November 18, 1974) was an American artist who painted under several known pseudonyms, including Winslow Wilson and Pico Miran.   Wilson/Miran is considered one of the earliest artists of the Post Modern Art Movement.  He is widely quoted from his Manifesto For Post-Modern Art, published in 1951, under the name Pico Miran.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wilson attended Harvard College between 1911-1915, becoming an Editor of the The Harvard Monthly with his friends John Dos Passos and E.E. Cummings.  Wilson would go on to share an apartment at 21 East 15thStreet in New York City with E.E. Cummings, and enlist in the U.S. Military during 1917-1919, joining John Dos Passos and E.E. Cummings and other Harvard students in France.  He spent time in Paris with E.E. Cummings, and mingled with Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and other influential painters of the period in London and Paris in the 1920’s.

Winslow WilsonWilson was active in the New York, NY, Lime Rock, CT, Gloucester, MA, and Rockport, MA art scenes between the 1930’s – 1972.  Wilson painted post-modern artwork utilizing the name Pico Miran in his Gloucester, Massachusetts studio, taught portraiture at the Rockport Art Association in Rockport, Massachusetts under the name Winslow Wilson, and painted seascapes as Winslow Wilson in his Rockport, Massachusetts studio.

From all aspects, it seems that Wilson was strongly influenced by his time at Harvard and World War I.  In addition to a tragic event which resulted in the death of one of Wilson’s friends in 1912, there is evidence that Wilson encountered trauma during World War I.  Art became a vehicle through which Wilson found solace.  His Post-Modern artwork is replete with images of industrial and nuclear effects upon the common man.  Growing up in rural Texas, to a life in Boston and New York, friendships with intellectuals, Wilson’s writings reveal a man who held his craft and opinions in high regard.  Understanding that Wilson eschewed family relationships while fully immersing himself as a bit of an artistic recluse, provides an insight into the life of this artist.

Following Wilson’s death in 1974, his long-term companion, Jane Grey (an accomplished portrait artist), gifted his paintings to his only son, Horace Peter Wilson.  Those paintings remained stored in Kansas City until 2012, at which time the paintings were distributed to Wilson’s grandchildren.

In 2014, Gloucester writer David Rich wrote about Wilson: “His value lies in his theorizing postmodernity, and making the first forays into postmodern visual art — the seascapes were a virtuoso performance; Winslow was no less a character than Pico or Tex. In that sense he was a performance artist. A kind of Andy Kaufman who took personae and masks to the extreme. On this conceptual level, if explained as such, Wilson ought to be recovered; and could be recovered by an astute and enterprising curator.”

Wilson portraitThe paintings are in the process of being professionally restored and framed, and efforts are underway to showcase Wilson’s paintings.

For more information please visit the Winslow Wilson website.

 

It’s Boiling Hot

On Pavillion Beach. © 2014 Jeff Weaver (b. 1953)

On Pavilion Beach.                                                                                            © 2014 Jeff Weaver (b. 1953)

Its boiling hot, they’ve gone to catch the wind 
at high tide when you can sail the tidal river 
above the sandbars, when the scope is wide 
room to tack and reach, as we try to reach to the far 
points in our life where you are the self you wish to be 
away from the effigies others might prefer 
beyond the expectations of correct behavior and pieties 
free of the sand bars in our circumscribed environment 
the enclosing freeways that bind us into pockets 
webs of mercantile definition, malls of distance, 
the all-together loneliness of the social web. 
This is not the place for me. 

Where can one go to be free of this American entrapment 
where black and brown and white can live in harmony 
where all beliefs, intellect and toil are respected, 
was our Cape Ann like that, not entirely but enough 
the classes did mix, brawls were plenty enough 
but the morning light broke bright on sea calm water 
where rancor stills and the gulls cry instead. 
Perfection of a sort sadly doesn’t last 
the tentacles of wealthy desire slowly penetrate 
crawling over the bridge, tourists who end up staying 
and driving up the rents, buying the cheap houses; 
improving them twists the old mix out  working people 
can’t afford to be here any more, to smell the same sea 
air, feel the tidal sweep over the marshes 
swim in the warming creeks. 

Kent Bowker 
July 7, 2016 

Kent BowkerKent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

THE HOPPER PAINTING

(Rooms by the Sea, 1951)

By Dan Wilcox

Rooms By The Sea. 1951 Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

Rooms By The Sea. 1951 Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

I get up and go to the window,

The sea is right outside

there is no beach, only the sea.

The white is not foam, it is light

the sun reflecting from the high side of the waves

while the deep part is blue, bluer.

Where the black blue meets the white sky

is the same line as the wall that meets the ceiling.

I sit on the red couch and think

of immensity, of infinity

of the edges between the door and the sea

the two pieces of the sky, the doorknob

the latchwork of the jamb.

I walk from the window, around

the wall to the door

step into the light

watch the shape change.

If the door closes, I will fall into the sea.

 

(Dan Wilcox will be reading from his new collection of poetry, Gloucester Notes, at the Gloucester Writers Center, on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:30 PM. Reading also on the program will be Alan Casline.)

 

 

dan-wilcoxDan Wilcox is the host of the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center in Albany, N.Y. and is a member of the poetry performance group “3 Guys from Albany”.  He is a frequent visitor to Gloucester and his book of poems Gloucester Notes is forthcoming this year from Foothills Publishing.  You can read his Blog about the Albany poetry scene at  dwlcx.blogspot.com

 

A Special Place

Seesaw, Gloucester. published 1874. Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

Seesaw, Gloucester. published 1874.                                                                    Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

Gloucester’s U10 Extreme (Soccer) Team lost a close one last Saturday at Danvers Indoor Sports.  Following the match, parents from the opposing side yelled at our players and, after much ado, we were encouraged to “go back to our stinking fish city.”  Aggressive, condescending and delivered to a crowd of young boys and parents who were gathering to celebrate the birthday of one of the players, this insult was jarring.  After the initial shock, however, the incident inspired us to feel something important and enduring – intense pride in our hometown.

Gloucester is a special place.  It means something to be from this island, on the edge of the continent, sometimes seemingly far from Boston and suburbs “up the line.”  We love its natural beauty, its light and art, and the way it embraces characters of all kinds.  We are proud of our fishing history and the continuing work ethic of our residents, which is evident across industries today.  We recognize our socioeconomic and ethnic diversity as essential to our strength and future prosperity.  Among our fans on Saturday, cheering on a sweet and talented group of 9 and 10-year-old boys, were a surgical assistant, a neuroscientist, a lobsterman, a communications strategist, attorneys, an office manager, a fitness coach, local business owners and a teacher, representing a broad range of ethnicities and including first-generation Americans.  On the soccer sidelines, as in our city at large, diversity catalyzes empathy, strength, creativity and cohesion and results in something bigger – a community.

One does see Gloucester in our kids out on the soccer pitch.  They play hard, have heart, focus on teamwork and celebrate and support each other.  They are strong and spirited.  They have grit.  Fishermen – every one of them – and every one of us.

So, yes, we’ll happily return to our “fish city.”  Gloucester.  Beauport.  Call it what you want.  And we’ll see you at the playoffs!

Liisa Nogelo and Doug Kerr

Magnolia

 

This post appeared as a Letter to the Editor of the Gloucester Times on Saturday, April 4, 2016.  We reprint it with the permission of the authors, Liisa Nogelo and Doug Kerr.