Old Orchard Beach Cycle: From Sea Symphonies to Honky-Tonk Philosophies
Marcel Proust, the master of reminiscences, meets his match in Robert Gibbons’ new collection, Old Orchard Beach Cycle. The trigger of Gibbons’ reminiscence is a seven mile stretch of the Maine coast. “Carrying a notebook to jot down what the waves may offer up…” the poet explores “… the tactile value of language.” Meals, wines, paintings and the natural world evoke memories. Snow storms and rain showers recall the past. And there is a spiritual quality throughout the collection. “Spirits palpably wisping around/ & whispering in the wind/ & waves.” Reader, be prepared for “jolts of joy.”
— David Ferriero, Tenth Archivist of the United States
In his Old Orchard Beach Cycle, Robert Gibbons has joined a great tribe of poet-walkers who give us a world of vivid detail and acute insight, a world that contains beauty and mystery as well as historical violence. It’s all here in these fine poems that take us in and out of time – in to the very real cycles of tides and light, the streets of Old Orchard, the Ferris wheel’s “mandala,” static or turning with the seasons, then out to the stars, their “fraction of eternity,” still present behind a cloudless sky. In these elegant poems, full of wisdom and wit, walking becomes a form of meditation, and the poet doesn’t walk alone. He includes many companions who have inspired him – his beloved wife, old friends, and a chorus of others, including Beethoven, Bill Evans, Rainier Rilke, and Osip Mandelstam. These poems are wide-ranging and luminous. In our current troubled, deceitful world, Robert Gibbons has given us a necessary guide to living an embodied and examined life.
–Betsy Sholl, former Poet Laureate of Maine, author of As If a Song Could Save You