LEWISTON – Rep. Elaine Makas, D-Lewiston, has donated an historic, hard-to-find book by an accomplished 20th century painter and poet who wrote about the Androscoggin River, Rick Speer of the Lewiston Public Library has announced.

The book is Marsden Hartley’s “Androscoggin.” The book was originally published in 1940 by the Falmouth Publishing House in Portland. It has been out-of-print for many years and copies are difficult to find, Speer said.

Marsden Hartley was born in Lewiston in 1877 and, in addition to becoming an accomplished poet, was one of the leading American landscape painters of the 20th century.

Although the Lewiston Public Library has anthologies of Hartley’s work that include the poetry from the “Androscoggin” volume, the library’s original copy was lost many years ago.

Makas discovered Hartley’s poetry and his love for the Androscoggin River when doing research to support a bill she’s sponsoring. When Makas discovered the library did not have the book, she donated it, saying the library is where it belongs. Speer called her donation “generous.”

The Lewiston Public Library’s new addition, under construction, has been named “The Marsden Hartley Cultural Center,” Speer said.

A professor at the Lewiston-Auburn College, Makas is a fan of poetry, history and the Androscoggin River. She has introduced a bill to improve the Androscoggin River’s water quality standards.

While scientific, economic and political arguments have been brought to support Makas’ legislation, Hartley’s poetry provides a personal perspective on the importance of the Androscoggin River to Lewiston-Auburn residents, Speer said.

The following is an excerpt from Hartley’s poem titled “Lewiston is a Pleasant Place,” in the book, “Androscoggin.”

It reads:

“…. the Androscoggin

forever flowing solemnly through my brain,

coursing in and out of my flesh and bone,

as it still does, sacredly.”

Makas said her gift to the library is her way “of acknowledging our community’s continued love and respect for our river.”


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