PUCKERBRUSH REVIEW, Spring/Summer 2012; edited by Sanford Phippen; University of Maine English Department/Puckerbrush Press Inc., Orono; 144 pages, large format perfect bound, $10.
The big literary news revealed in the summer 2012 issue of Puckerbrush Review, the longstanding central organ for UMaine-associated belles lettres and beyond, is that its editor of the last six years, Sanford Phippen, is retiring from the task. Phippen took over in 2006 after the death of founder Constance Hunting, a hard act to follow, and did, like we say, yeoman’s work. His letter introducing the issue and announcing his retirement provides a heartfelt summary of the people, mission and warmth of feeling associated with Puckerbrush since its inception in the 1970s.
This last Phippen-guided issue stays the course. There are dozens of poems by writers recognizable for their UMaine affiliations (e.g. Ken Norris, Hugh Curran, Sandra Lynn Hutchison) and outside the university ( Patricia Ranzoni, whose photo graces the cover, Farnham Blair, Jonathan Aldrich, Ah McLean and Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair), among many others. Reviews cover recent books by Leonore Hildebrandt, Kathleen Ellis, former Maine Poet Laureate Baron Wormser and Rockland laureate Kendall Merriam, and there’s a little battery of pieces on Leo Connellan.
Prose fiction, tributes (by Harvey Kail to UM instructor Jane Morse and by Walter Baumann to scholar David Gordon) and memoirs round out the selections as usual. An odd little section called “Theories & Poetics” features short writings by Fleur D. Lee, C. Alice Woodcock, Beetrix Aaron and Penni Nicol Quarterdyme — not sure what to make of what look like quirky pseudonyms.
It is not merely a cliche to say Sandy Phippen’s energy for the task will be missed. He has been a presence in Down East literature, as assistant editor and editor of Puckerbrush, as a UMaine English instructor, and with his own insightful writings, for decades. This last issue under his direction offers good examples of exactly what Puckerbrush has been giving us for decades, with improved typography, I might add.
Copies are available from some local bookstores or by contacting Puckerbrush at puckerbrushreview.com or writing to Puckerbrush Press, 76 Main St., Orono 04473.