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Available Light
Philip Booth and the Gift of Place
Jeanne Braham




Bauhan
2015 • 144 pp. 6 x 9"
Biography - Writers / Biography

$23.95 Paperback, 978-0-87233-206-5



“In her superb literary biography, Jeanne Braham, with clarity and researched insight, explores Booth's inner and outer places and, in the process, certifies his true... [continued in Reviews below]”—Gary Margolis, Robert Frost Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and author of four volumes of poetry, most recently Raking the Winter Leaves: New and Selected Poems,

“Being a poet is not a career, it’s a life.”—Philip Booth

Castine, Maine, writes Jeanne Braham, is the place to both begin and to end an exploration of the life and work of the poet Philip Booth. Home to five generations of the Booth family, the coastal town was both working harbor and artists’ retreat, and Booth belonged as much to the craggy locals—dockworkers, boat builders, and fishermen who weathered its harsh winters—as to the literary luminaries who gathered there in summertime.

His poems came to depend, “in immediate and sensory ways, on the geography of coastal Maine and the activities associated with living there: rowing boats, navigating through thick fog that obscured normal landmarks, recording the talk of wharf workers, splitting wood and methodically stacking it,” writes Braham, who locates Booth’s cadence, subject matter, and themes in the people, landscape, and history of Castine.

Mentored by Robert Frost and a close friend of Robert Lowell, Booth was an anchor for a circle of writers who gravitated to the mid-Maine coast for short and long visits—Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Mary McCarthy, W. S. Merwin, and Maxine Kumin among them—and Braham’s recountings of their friendships and escapades open a window into a tremendously exciting time in late twentieth-century poetry.

Through research, careful readings of Booth’s poetry, and interviews with his family and friends, Available Light offers an intimate and intelligent look into the life and writing of a major twentieth-century poet, one whose incandescent poems deserve to live and be shared.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“In her superb literary biography, Jeanne Braham, with clarity and researched insight, explores Booth's inner and outer places and, in the process, certifies his true, lasting place in twentieth-century American poetry. I am as grateful to her for the care she has taken in rendering this poet's life as I am for the opportunity she provides to live again in Booth's most memorable poems.—Gary Margolis, Robert Frost Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and author of four volumes of poetry, most recently Raking the Winter Leaves: New and Selected Poems

Jeanne Braham's wonderful biography of Philip Booth captures him, his life in Maine, and his work, beautifully. In doing so, she brings renewed attention to a uniquely gifted poet who never sought attention but whose exquisitely crafted work deserves it.—Henry L. Miller, chief operating officer of Goodman Media International, and friend of Philip Booth for more than forty years

Good typography is never seen. To serve its text the type has to get out of the way. A good biographer needs to do the same—get out of the way of the story. Jeanne Braham is a master of getting out of the way. Her biography of Philip Booth works like Booth's poetry: beautifully written, layered, understated, and truthful.—Barry Moser, master engraver, printer, and illustrator / designer of over 350 books, teaches at Smith College. His latest book, a memoir, is titled We Were Brothers.



JEANNE BRAHAM his the author of five books on American arts and letters, including a collaboration with the artist and wood engraver, Barry Moser: The Light Within the Light: Portraits of Donald Hall, Richard Wilbur, Maxine Kumin, and Stanley Kunitz. She has taught literature and creative writing at a number of colleges and universities, primarily at Allegheny College, but later Smith College, Hampshire College, the University of New Hampshire, and Clark University. She is the founding editor of Heatherstone Press, a fine arts publisher of poetry chapbooks, and lives in western Massachusetts.



Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:35:42 -0500