Through the clearing between two trees Thomas looked across the river at the opposite bank. It was raised on a wall of exposed granite. The majestic tops of pine trees rocked in an unfelt breeze. Here and there herons and egrets swooped in search of fish. And further back, there rose the deeper mountain woods and glens that framed the lowest reaches of the sky. Cow-spotted by shadows made under cumulus clouds, the natural splendor of places he had never been and never would go kept stretching.

—“White Canvas, by Thomas” by J.D. Mankowski

Rivers of Ink: Literary Reflections on the Penobscot

Edited by Steven Long

Introduction by Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset

e-book 978-1-961905-02-3 | print 978-1-961905-03-0

December 1, 2023 | 192 pages

Rivers of Ink: Literary Reflections on the Penobscot, with an insightful introduction by Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, an esteemed Indigenous attorney, activist, and author from the Penobscot Nation, presents a captivating journey along Maine’s vital Penobscot River. This charity anthology, weaving together the works of local writers, offers a deep dive into the river’s lasting impact and its integral role in the region’s heritage.

Readers are invited to explore the Penobscot’s rich history, its pivotal contribution to industry and daily life, and the profound personal ties of those living along its shores. The collection also addresses the river’s current significance, shedding light on environmental and climate challenges while celebrating its resilience. Through evocative essays, fiction, and poetry, Rivers of Ink vividly portrays the Penobscot’s legacy, echoing the sights, sounds, and heart of this influential waterway.

Proceeds from Rivers of Ink will be donated to the Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters’ campaign “A Monumental Welcome,” which will provide funding for a visitor contact station, priority park projects, and Wabanaki-directed projects

“The writers in Rivers of Ink speak to us about the power of place, how one river connects us all.  It is as if writers and readers alike are on the banks of the Penobscot together, taking the time to look closely, learn from the past, and look toward the future. Each story, each poem becomes part of the flow in this river of words, and we travel through geologic time, indigenous time, and industrial time, to a time that—we hope—will be one of renewal.”
—Stuart Kestenbaum, former poet laureate of Maine and author of six collections of poetry

“Brimming with voices as diverse as the river’s currents and the land through which it flows, Rivers of Ink is a significant addition to the literature of the Penobscot. Readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the river itself will return to these pages,”
 —Kristen Britain, New York Times bestselling author of the Green Rider fantasy series

“To the river writers in this anthology, thank you for your marvelous visions of the Penobscot. Ecological and animated, meditative, and hopeful, vital, tender, and welcoming: your poems, stories, and essays capture the spirit of this mighty thoroughfare. We came away feeling new awe and appreciation for that river that runs through all of us, sustaining and alive.”
—Carl and David Little, authors of Art of Penobscot Bay

“Striking images of flora and fauna and of landscapes and wilderness are among the many pleasures of reading Rivers of Ink: ‘cormorants riding/the eddies/my kin/singing rock me/on the water’ (lisa panepinto). Thomas, a painter, makes his home an ‘overcrowded shrine to the river’ (J.D. Mankowski). A mother scatters her son’s ashes in the Penobscot, ‘A ceaseless, flowing movement—like music—constantly evolving, carrying us and our stories, our cultures’ (Annaliese Jakimides). The poems and prose in this book are a moving tribute to the removal of the dam, to the cleanup of the river, to the return of Atlantic salmon and other fish to its waters, to the redemptive rewilding of the Penobscot River: ‘Wilderness enters our lives and we find/ a way to greet it’ (Kathleen Ellis).”
—Alice Bolstridge, PhD, author of Oppression for the Heaven of It, a fictionalized memoir, and Chance & Choice, a chapbook of poems

“What a testament this anthology is to the majesty and importance of the Penobscot River. The tenderness, reverence, and respect each writer has for the mighty watershed makes for a deeply moving and inspiring collection. Reading Rivers of Ink was an experience in gratitude: I am grateful to live on the shore of the Penobscot; I am grateful for this community of talented writers; I am grateful for the dazzling celebration between these covers—a treasure, polished smooth as a river stone, on every page.”
—Hollie Addams, University of Maine professor, 2023 Acadia Poetry Fellowship, and chair of the Bangor Cultural Commission

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