“Narrow River to the North: Poems & Prose of the Penobscot Watershed” by Kathleen Ellis; Amapola Books, Bangor, Maine, 2011; color photos; 38 pages, odd-sized glossy paperback, $12.95.
University of Maine adjunct professor Kathleen Ellis’ “Narrow River to the North” differs from her previous, more traditional collections of verse by the inclusion of some nice color photographs of Maine, around which short poems and bits of prose are arranged. The book is an expression of appreciation and indeed love for what the poet describes as her “homeplace,” and those feelings are made abundantly clear throughout.
There are scraps of quirky information that tell us something about the depth of the Penobscot watershed’s history (if not prehistory):
The Penobscots believed the river
flowed both ways, north and south,
until loggers dammed the St. John
and the water all ran south.
And there are prosaic expressions of philosophic, naturalist’s appreciation: “The river is oxymoron: quiet and boisterous, dammed yet ever changing.”
The photos, which dominate the book visually, were taken by Ellis and R.W. Estela and include warm, familiar imagery such as aerial shots of Mount Katahdin and of the new bridge at Prospect, floodwaters along Route 2, and factories past and present, as well as quintessential central Maine flora.
“Narrow River to the North” is a sort of introspective meander along the Penobscot River, and its appreciation of the place will be appreciated by many readers, no doubt. It’s available by contacting the author at Kathleen_Ellis@umit.maine.edu. Ellis’ other books include “Vanishing Act,” “Entering Earthquake Country,” “Red Horses” and “The Calamity Jane Poems.” She will be reading and signing books at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Front Porch Books in Orono.