'G' Is For Granite Goes Statewide

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NH poet laureate's book to be distributed to more than 200 libraries in the state.

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, April 24, 2003

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]
'READING ROCKS THE GRANITE STATE' - New Hampshire Poet Laureate Marie Harris (left) reads a copy of her state alphabet poetry book "'G' is for Granite" during a recent visit to the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton. Accompanying Harris was artist Karen Holman (right), who illustrated the book in vibrant watercolors. The New Hampshire Library Association is donating more than 200 copies of the book to public libraries across the state. {Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo}

HAMPTON - The recent visit of New Hampshire Poet Laureate Marie Harris to the Lane Memorial Library has generated two exciting pieces of literary news: The library's Children's Room has added her latest book of poetry to its collection, and copies of the book - donated by the New Hampshire Library Association (NHLA) - will be distributed to more than 200 public libraries throughout the state.

Harris, who penned the recently-published "'G' is for Granite" alphabet poetry book, was welcomed at the Lane Library in Hampton on Wednesday, April 16. Accompanied by illustrator Karen Holman, NH's poet laureate spoke to a small audience of parents, children and library staff about her book prior to reading it aloud to her listeners. The pair are currently on a book tour, visiting libraries around the state and promoting "'G' is for Granite."

According to Mike Sullivan of NHLA, the hundreds of copies of "'G' is for Granite" are being donated to the libraries "in honor of the state legislators as thanks for their support of libraries, and to highlight the importance of supporting libraries in the future." Funding for the gift, stated Sullivan, "was raised from those companies that supply libraries in an effort to increase awareness among legislators and citizens."

A bookplate, to which the names of local legislators can be added, will be included with each copy of the book. House Speaker Gene Chandler was an early recipient of "'G' is for Granite;" it was presented to him in a special ceremony held at the state house in Concord.

"'G' is for Granite" is part of a series of alphabet poetry books, each of which represent a state in America. Published by Sleeping Bear Press of Michigan, each book in the series is typically written by a resident of the state about which they're writing. Harris was selected to author the book after she phoned the publishing company and asked them, "Have you done New Hampshire yet?" When she was told "no," Harris said, "Pick me!"

"I just sort of volunteered to do it," Harris added.

As is the case for other authors in the series, Harris was given a year to complete her work.

"It was not easy," Harris admitted. Each individual letter of the alphabet had to be specifically about New Hampshire. Harris conducted extensive research and visited locales around the state in order to compile the information she needed to accurately represent the subject of her poetry. The finished product is a beautifully-written volume chock full of interesting, historical and natural facts about the Granite State. It's all accompanied by the stunning artwork provided by Holman.

"She's the one who made the pictures; I'm the one who made the words," Harris told her Lane Library audience when the artist was introduced. Holman, who had only four months to research, create and submit the vibrant watercolor paintings which appear in the book, displayed some of them as she spoke. She explained how she often used objects in her own life (family members, pets, friends, neighbors, buildings) as models for many of her paintings.

"We had a lot of fun working on the book together," said Holman of her artistic partnership with Harris, who had first witnessed the watercolorist's talents at the University of New Hampshire. Though they occasionally corresponded while their task was in progress, the pair were advised by the publishing company to pretty much work on their own, so as not to affect their individual creativity.

These limits, which were apparently standard for the publishing company, did not diminish the end product of the creative partnership shared by author and illustrator.

"It worked out just great," Harris reported.

What also works out great is the fact that the book happens to be a perfect fit for this year's statewide Summer Reading Program, entitled "Reading Rocks the Granite State." Sponsored by the Children's Librarians of New Hampshire, the summer reading program is offered annually at the Lane Memorial Library.

Sleeping Bear Press is expected to have the entire line of state alphabet poetry books published by the end of this year. In the meantime, Lane Memorial Library patrons are invited to check out "'G' is for Granite," which can be found in the Children's Room. For more information about current and upcoming library programs, call Children's Librarian Cindy Stosse at 926-4729.

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