Where the Deer Were

Pastoral, narrative, deliberately lyrical, the poetry of Kate Barnes is set solidly in the rural Maine countryside, and in the literary tradition in which she was raised (her father was Henry Beston, her mother Elizabeth Coatsworth). There she lives near the house that Beston made famous in Northern Farm, drawing strength and inspiration from the coastal landscape to steady her through the changing seasons of life.

This is wise and moving verse: not abstract or self-consciously “modern,” but clean and convincing verse, as Robert Creeley has commented, “of a deep and heartfelt clarity.” These are poems that examine and celebrate the ingredients of our humanity: friendship and wonder, loneliness and endurance, sexuality and unrequited longing, familial ties and the overriding relationship of the individual to nature, to landscape and animals, and to the living earth itself.

Kate Barnes was born on April 19, 1932, in Hingham , Mass. to parents Henry Beston and Elizabeth Coatsworth. Six weeks later she came to Maine on the train, in a basket, wreathed with flowers, to spend the summer at the Bestons’  Chimney Farm, in Nobleboro, Maine. Growing up she spent her summers in Maine, and attended the Derby School in Hingham, Mass. She graduated from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and then from Scripps College, in Claremont, California. While Kate was attending Scripps College her parents sent her $30 a month for clothing and extras, which Kate instead used to rent a horse and spent every free moment riding horses and exploring the countryside. She said of that time “it was a drunkenness of such joy as I had never known…I just ate that landscape up. I couldn’t get enough.” The friendships that she made in college, in California and later in Maine continued in strength and richness throughout her life.

In 1953, Kate married Richard G. Barnes, and their life in California was full of children, horses, dogs and poetry. In 1955, at the age of 23, Kate had her first poem published in the New Yorker magazine. Her life in poetry blossomed, with poems published in many magazines and anthologies, and four books of poems published, two by the publisher David Godine. She was a well – loved reader, and teacher, and after returning to Maine in the early 1980s, she was named Maine’s first official Poet Laureate, and served from 1996 to 2000. She was also a gifted artist, a serious scholar of literature, a maker of beautiful handmade books, and a serious student of song.

Mary Azarian grew up on a small farm in Virginia, where she had horses, rabbits and chickens. After graduating from Smith College, where she studied printmaking with Leonard Baskin, she married and moved to a farm in northern Vermont. There she taught for four years in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in the state. She has been a full-time printmaker since 1969. Her other books include The Tale of John Barleycorn, The Man Who Lived Alone, and the Caldecott Medal-winning Snowflake Bentley.