The Salt Coast Sages

The Salt Coast Sages: Gerald George

Gerald George in Ireland

Résumé: Gerald William George

264 Cutler Road, East Machias, ME 04630

(207) 255-6800

Gerald George is a professional writer and editor who currently divides his time between freelance editorial work for such clients as the Library of Congress and his own work as a poet, essayist, and playwright.

He began his editorial career by winning a poetry prize in grade school, a state essay contest in high school, and a speech-writing contest in college, where he also was editor of the student literary magazine. He is a graduate of Salina High School (in his native Kansas), Wichita State University (B.A. magna cum laude with honors in history), and Yale University (M.A. in history), which he attended on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.

After graduation, he went to work for the Salina Journal, a daily newspaper, becoming a reporter, columnist, and Sunday features editor. He then joined the staff of The National Observer, the former Dow-Jones newsweekly in Washington, D.C., as a reporter and features writer, covering stories across the United States and in western Europe. Subsequently he served in administrative and editorial positions in governmental and nonprofit organizations, becoming director of the American Association for State and Local History, director of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and director of communications for the U.S. National Archives.

He has also worked as managing editor of The States and the Nation, a fifty-one-volume series of histories of the states and D.C., published by W.W. Norton and Company; served on the editorial board of the Macmillan Publishing Company's Encyclopedia of the American West; and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the poetry journal Off the Coast.

He is the author of Visiting History: Arguments over Museums and Historic Sites (American Association of Museums, 1990), co-author of Starting Right: a Basic Guide to Museum Planning (AltaMira Press, rev. ed. 2004), and co-editor of Digital Library Development, the View from Kanazawa (Libraries Unlimited, 2006). He has published numerous articles in newspapers, magazines, journals, and books, along with two short stories and more than a hundred poems. The stories appeared in Kansas Quarterly and Washingtonian Magazine, and the poems in such periodicals as College English, Cumberland Poetry Review, Northern New England Review, Potomac Review, and Visions International. Maine periodicals that have published his poetry include Off the Coast, Puckerbrush Review, and Wolf Moon Journal. His poetry in Japanese forms has appeared in The Loose Thread: the Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku and Stone Frog: American Haibun and Haiku. His play Bailey's Mistake, influenced by Japanese Noh theatre, was performed in the 2008 Maine One-Act Play Festival.

He and his wife Carol, an archivist, librarian, and museum educator, live year-around in East Machias, Maine.

Three Short Poems by Gerald George


Some lumber in the wood room of my mind
shifts as the warped and weathered floor boards settle,
revealing in my memory’s packrat nest
strangely colored ribbons, strangely crushed.

Lit Crit

as my mind caromed
like a flung clam,

I was going to write
a sagacious satire
on coded poets,

who make me grope
through bald weeds
in the cold rozarium

to get the mail
which is always late
since they use no stamps.

But today, I, too,
am mad for masks,
and what the hell—

it’s fun to write
wild radishes!

Signs of Degradation

A researcher from Scotland’s Strathclyde University has teamed up with the British Library to design a method of “smelling” the chemicals given off by decaying paper . . . when the results are finalized, it is hoped a portable chemical “nose” will be designed that could, for example, sit on the end of the robot arms that fetch books from the British Library’s archive or be placed along the shelves to warn of the signs of degradation.
—Jasper Hamill, “Books, Smell my first edition,” online Sunday Tribune, 30 April 2008.

Oh,learned robot nose,
which books are unhealthy?
Which give off the sly stench
of uncertain virtue?
Which emit the ephemeral odor
of eroding authority?
In which are the binding arguments
becoming undone, the sense unglued?
Which are no longer safe and sound
For inhalation by the righteous mind?
Which seem to promote rot?
Which are insufficiently perfumed?

How good to see you there sniffing the shelves,
your critical nostrils flaring, your aluminum arms
taking out unwholesome tomes, your beeping brain
constantly warning of signs of degradation.
Gratefully, oh nose, we will read your reviews
to see what stinks.

©2008 The Salt Coast Sages