Saturday, August 24, 2013

One Salt Smell of the Sea Once More

Ben Barrows at Opera House Arts
Annual Evening of Poetry

This last Thursday evening, Opera House Arts hosted our now annual evening of poetry. Like those that preceded it, this was a magical, intimate evening, with rhythm word and rhyme filling the soft wooden space of the more than 100-year-old opera house and resonating with the engaged audience of neighbors and friends who attended.

Deborah Cummins, poet, writer, and former chair of the Poetry Foundation, and Maine poet Dawn Potter lead the way. They were followed by a group of five year round island residents, each selecting two poems on the theme of HOME: Celebrating Place & Community, and explaining why they made their selections.

Even in a small, remote village like Stonington, on the island of Deer Isle, where the power of place is strongly felt each day, surrounded as we are by the sparkling sea and the largest archipelago on the coast of Maine, this evening filled us all with a deeper understanding of how a place grabs us, how it becomes home, and all the lovely and terrible things home means to most of us.

Here is a lovely blog post on the evening by OHA board member Debbie Weil.

And below is my personal favorite poem of the evening, read by Ben Barrows, who grew up here and has now returned, after several years working in international development in the middle east, to run his family business: the local weekly newspaper, the Island Ad-Vantages. I was lucky enough to work some with Ben when he was younger, and I was News Editor of the paper, in 2001-2003, and it was a pleasure to have him join us, for the first time, on the Opera House stage.

Maybe one of you will be a reader next year!


  by Edna St. Vincent Millay
People that build their houses inland,
   People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
   Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
   Tons of water striking the shore,—
What do they long for, as I long for
   One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
   Spanking the boats at the harbour's head,
What do they long for, as I long for,—
   Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
   Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning,—
   One salt taste of the sea once more? - See more at: