Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 Like many other poets in Maine and beyond, I was stunned yesterday to learn of the death of Lee Sharkey, long-time co-editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal, a founder of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and a devoted poet, teacher, and activist.

I became acquainted with Lee when Beloit accepted a poem that later appeared in my first book, Boy Land. This was my first major journal acceptance, and in the ensuing years Lee and her co-editor John Rosenwald accepted several other pieces. Lee almost always included editorial suggestions with her acceptances, often radically large suggestions--significant reorganization, sizable cuts--that felt shocking but, in the end, always improved the piece. She was an excellent editor, and when she and John invited me to join the Beloit editorial board, I was flattered beyond belief. I worked with them for several years before deciding that I preferred the teaching rather than the journal end of the poetry spectrum. But the time I spent watching Lee at work was an important point of growth in my apprenticeship to the art. Just as important, I watched her relationship with other poets, not least the interns who worked on the journal, several of whom have climbed far since then--Jacques Rancourt, Nate Fisher, Julia Bouwsma. Lee mothered them, and challenged them, almost in the same breath. She was a model, as a poet, as a mentor, as a citizen. We will miss her greatly.

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Yesterday I finished my firewood project, managing to fit almost all of the dry logs into the basement stacks. I also finished my editing pile, so this morning I have nothing to do but read and write. I'll tackle Byron, and a poem draft, and maybe begin writing an essay about a couple of Baron Wormser's poems, which will be part of a celebration of his work in Teresa Carson's weekly poetry letter. (If you want to be added to her email  list, let me know.)

Paul goes back to work this afternoon, so I guess our days will return to whatever normality this normality is. His birthday is coming up next week and I long to give him a theater and a play to direct and an apartment to call his own. That's what he wants, but it's not what he can have. All he gets is a line-cook job and a mattress on the floor in his parents' house. 


N Fisher said...

Thank you, Dawn.

David X. Novak said...

Any other year I would have exhorted your son, Come ye to Chicago. Our late, lamented theater scene was bountiful. Alas, alas, the performing arts have suffered a severe blow, and Zoom productions do little to compensate.

Christopher Woodman said...

Thanks, Dawn -- I remember when you were there, and I give thanks for that too.