Gary Lawless | Editor, Publisher and Poet
The author of 21 poetry collections, Gary Lawless has 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 age as a community hub. “We saw the bookstore as central to a community of ideas,” Lawless says, in reference to the shop’s support of local and small presses, as well as the diversity of perspectives and opportunities for conversation that it offers. Books are “tools and resources,” and to author one can be empowering. Through working with various communities in Maine for decades, he has encouraged and published the work of combat veterans, prison inmates, immigrants, and refugees. At Spindleworks Art Center in Brunswick, he has helped adults with disabilities produce three anthologies of poetry and is in the process of contributing his talents to a film about their dreams; as an artist-in-residence at Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, he has produced an anthology of poems written by homeless and low-income authors. In honor of his community work, the Maine Humanities Council awarded Lawless the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize, and the Emily Harvey Foundation offered him a residency grant to spend one month in Venice this upcoming autumn. “The books I publish, the books we sell at the store, and the conversations we have all move us toward a wider, more informed, and more loving community,” he says.