Gary Lawless has traveled widely and often traces his journey through marks and tracks, through a history of icons and stones. How does culture move through space and time, from ancient Turkey and Greece, and on to us, if not by leaving texts in various scripts, and other marks, leaving pillar and stone, leaving ruins? “Standing in the Sacred, standing in ruins, all around us the stones,” Lawless says. If visual art moves largely through space, poetry has a strong component of time: one word then another, one line, then the next. Here, we have the visual image and the movement through times via words.
The author of 21 poetry collections, Gary Lawless, often pursued and expressed the development of his own ideas, but he also works to encourage others to find their voices. He and Beth Leonard opened Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick 38 years ago as a community hub. Through working with various communities in Maine for decades, he has encouraged and published the work of combat veterans, prison inmates, immigrants, and refugees. In honor of his community work, the Maine Humanities Council awarded Lawless the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize. He has also received grants to spend time in Venice.
Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor
Serpent stone, moving
We were standing in the Hippodrome,
Istanbul, in the center of the track,
A serpent column, ancient bronze,
Three serpents, twining, brought
Here from Delphi, 324, by
Constantine, the center
Of the world, omphalos,
Once the horses were here, bronze,
Now in Venice, St Mark’s,
Where is the center of the world
We were in Delphi, standing in the Sacred,
Standing in ruins, all around us the stones.
The base of the serpent, with a new spiral,
Watching the light, to the sea.
The sanctuary of Apollo—Apollo who
Came here from Delos, his birthplace,
The sacred lake there, the Sacred Way
Guarded by lions, marble, from Naxos—
One of those lions now guarding
The Arsenale, Venice—
“all the earth a quarry” and
Image at top: Beth Leonard, Istanbul.