Local poets share their Corner
Rockport — April is National Poetry Month and The Poets' Corner Workshop, which meets twice monthly at Rockport Public Library, has put together a series of events to mark the annual occasion.
The Poets’ Corner was founded in 2012 by local poets George Chappell and Jim Ostheimer who, along with some of the other current workshop members, will read from their work Thursday, April 3, during The Poets' Corner Workshop’s usual meeting time of 4 to 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to come hear what their friends and neighbors are producing in their pursuit of poetry.
Some of that output has been compiled into a chapbook titled “Poems from The Poets’ Corner,” which will be available at the reading for a suggested donation, most of which will go to the library. The chapbook will continue to be available at the library’s main desk and during The Poets' Corner Workshop, which meets the first and third Thursdays of each month at Rockport Public Library, 1 Limerock St.
Poetry chapbooks — small, increasingly self-printed books — have a long history that continues to this day; Chappell pointed out that former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl has put out a number of them. The April 3 reading may not get through all the poems in The Poets’ Corner chapbook, but there may be opportunities to give the remainder a public hearing at the upcoming readings by established local poets planned for later in the month.
The Poets’ Corner is a supportive writers’ group, encouraging shared experiments in different poetic forms rather than harsh critique.
“People like it because it’s not judgmental … of course, some people want the criticism,” Chappell said.
Chappell has been involved in writing for most of his adult life, as an English teacher and a journalist. He recently went back to school to earn a master of fine arts degree from Goddard College in Vermont, focusing on poetry; previous degrees are an MA in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA Arts in History from the University of Maine in Orono. He is working on a second book of poems, the first being “A Fresh Footpath: My New Life in Poetry,” a collection of poems from his master’s thesis at Goddard. He will lead a creative writing group for veterans in coming months at Togus VA Hospital.
Ostheimer is a Yale graduate who has been a writer for many years and won awards in the Arizona state poetry contest for his free verse. A former pilot in U.S. Air Force and a longtime competitive one-design racing sailor, Ostheimer has published three books — “Blue Yonder,” “Witness” and “Harbor Lights” —available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
The group draws its membership from many walks of life. Also reading April 3 will be Stephanie Marshall, a teacher at Camden-Rockport Elementary School, whose writing is influenced by a childhood spent roaming the potato fields of Aroostook County; and retired-from-Camden-schools teacher Jon Potter of Rockport, who has been writing for many years and has published more than 16 plays, as well as two textbooks. Potter teaches at URock and has seen some of his poems published.
Marilyn Hotch of Camden had a career as a litigator and environmental attorney in Massachusetts, then practiced law in Maine with a specialty in mediation and facilitation. Since retirement, she has focused on creative writing. Chappell encouraged her to enter the 2013 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Belfast Poetry Festival, which she won.
Bob MacLaughlin of Warren has been a newspaper sportswriter, magazine editor, on-air promo writer for network TV and an advertising copywriter. In 2011, Moon Pie Press published his book “Faulty Wiring: the Alzheimer’s poems and other memories,” which chronicles his father’s dementia, among other subjects, and went into its second printing within two weeks.
McLaughlin is not the only member with newspaper background. Chappell is a veteran reporter, most recently for The Courier-Gazette and the Bangor Daily News. The worlds of poetry and reporting had the occasional collision; Chappell’s poem “The Fire at Jay Hill” in the chapbook was inspired by a story in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Other events planned by The Poets' Corner Workshop in April include a series of Wednesday evening readings. On April 9, The Poets' Corner will host a poetry reading by young poets from Camden-Rockport Elementary School from 6 to 7 p.m. On April 16, Camden poet Dave Morrison will give a lively reading of his work including poems from his latest book, “Stethoscope.” On April 23, Thomaston’s Chris Fahy will read his poetry from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and on April 30, Camden poet Kristen Lindquist will read her work from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The Poets' Corner Workshop’s second meeting of April — Thursday, April 24, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. — will be a celebration of Poem in Your Pocket Day, with a yet-to-be-determined activity. For more information about the group, contact Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.