Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010
ISBN 13: 978- 0-9821600-5-3
Poetry, 48 pages

I'm delighted to announce the publication of my new poetry collection with a beautiful Fairfield Porter landscape of Penobscot Bay on the front cover. The poems are all set on the rocky "Bold Coast" of far Down East Maine, where I have been spending a few weeks each summer the past six or so years with my wife Mary Bonina and our son Gianni.

I've employed a variety of poetic modes over the years, ranging from lyric and narrative verse to found poetry, cut-ups, mash-ups, and Brecht-influenced satirical political poetry. My current work explores the journal as a poetic form combining aspects of poetry with the daily, or near daily, "takes" of journal writing. Born of twin impulses: to track change in daily life and to memorialize experience, such poetic journals owe allegiances to Asian writing — particularly the Japanese haibun of Matsuo Bashō, The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon, and the poetic diaries of Masaoka Shikii. To quote Tyler Doherty in his introduction to For the Time Being: The Bootstrap Book of Poetic Journals, "[The poetic journal] doesn't try to tell us what the world is, so much as remind us that the world is."

Go to the Pine (October 2012), furthers my exploration of the journal form that I had begun in a previous book (Official Versions), approaching the traditional haibun through a postmodern filter—post-Beat, New York School, and Objectivist poetries, among other influences. I treat the form as flexible—much in the way that Ted Berrigan treated the sonnet. The essence of haibun is what I am after, and that, simply stated, is terse prose narrative combined with keen observation of Maine’s rocky Downeast coast--and people--recorded as minimalist poems or poetic epiphanies.

I'll be reading from Go to the Pine on Tuesday, October 16th at 

hosted by Harris Gardner and Gloria Mindock
Somerville Armory
191 Highland Avenue
Doors:  6:30 PM. Show:  7:00 PM. Tickets: $4.00


“From chaconne to aubade Mark Pawlak's book is a wordsong to the Maine coast into which "the sea twice daily / insinuates its tongue." And the poet sees in sharp focus almost everything coastal Mainers have made: "Tire collars around wharf posts, tall sea-damp wooden poles; weed-draped netting," his neighbors: "Little old men out of 19th century Russian novels / (Goncharov? Gogol?) / wearing dark, ash-flecked greatcoats, / pace the length and breadth of this yard..." And, like the Robert Frost poem of such a one-on-one, other creatures of this world: "Coming over rise / upon apparition: / deer in the road, / wide-eyed, quizzical/ doe & me both. // Then blink-of-an-eye gone. / (Who blinked first?) / Fog. Fog in headlights."
       “Pawlak quotes Henri-Edmond Cross, a French painter, saying ‘I just had to jot down these fleeting things... a rapid notation in watercolor and pencil: an informal daubing of contrasting colors, tones, and hues.
       “Yes, fleeting daily things and lasting granite headlands in Maine. These will stay in the memory of Go To The Pine's readers.”
Henry Braun, 2008 Maine Literary Awards Winner for Poetry for Loyalty: New and Selected Poems

  “I'm partial to the collage approach to poetry with its surprising shifts and detours, the combination of carefully observed, consciously crafted poems, found poems, borrowings and eavesdropings. Mark Pawlak's Quoddy Journal—Go to the Pine—is a fine, artful example of the genre. With his eye for the changing light, his ear for the cadences of wave slap and foghorn, this is his unsentimental homage to a piece of Maine that's at once achingly beautiful and worn by struggle. He gives us the flowers and birds, name by name; but he doesn't turn away from the rusting draggers, the gun shops and the tired motels. If you've ever been there, this book will feel like an album you page in winter, impatient for the season to come around. If you're new to the place, you could have no better guide.” Marie Harris, a former New Hampshire poet laureate and the author of Your Sun, Manny: A Prose Poem Memoir
Plein Air Editions is an imprint of Bootstrap press, an arts and literary publishing company founded by Derek Fenner and Ryan Gallagher. Plein Air Editions are curated and edited by Tyler Doherty and Tom Morgan. Thanks Tyler, Tom, Derek and Ryan for your good work on this publication project. 

Bootstrap Press titles are available from Small Press Distribution.

For more information call: Derek Fenner or Ryan Gallagher :
(617) 899-1167 or
(617) 851-1637or email: