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Song In My Belly

Left to right: Shirley Ferris, Mary Shackelford and Robin Gage work together in Mary’s shop as they assemble her new book, Song In My Belly. Vashon Bookshop hosts a book launch and reading on Thursday, Nov. 12, 6 PM. (Jim Burke photo)
Left to right: Shirley Ferris, Mary Shackelford and Robin Gage work together in Mary’s shop as they assemble her new book, Song In My Belly. Vashon Bookshop hosts a book launch and reading on Thursday, Nov. 12, 6 PM. (Jim Burke photo)

I am grateful to Vashon Bookshop for hosting a book launch and reading on Thursday, Nov. 12, 6 PM for me to share Song In My Belly, my new book. This follows Through A Hollow Reed (2003) and Space Between My Bones (2010) as my latest hand-bound collection of poems.

Song In My Belly comprises work collected since 2010 and is by far the most ambitious of my books. It includes beautiful color photos by Candy Gamble. Completed by hand in the old practice of bookbinding, Song In My Belly is a limited edition of 150; the first 50 are signed.

One of the most wonderful aspects of bringing out this book is the collective endeavor that has brought friends together to help me. Shirley Ferris and Ann Spiers assisted me with preparation of the manuscript, much of which was originally born in Contemplative Dance Practice with Joan Hanna, Karen Nelson and others at Hanna Barn.

As with all my books, this one is finished by hand after the text and photographs were printed by Sy Novak on her laser press. Robin Gage, Anne Lohr, Shirley Ferris, Natalia Perez, Margot Burke and others helped me. First we completed the tearing and folding of large sheets of paper for covers and endpapers. Then Rayna Holtz and I printed the covers on the 1899 Chandler & Price letterpress that has printed so many Island books through our collective, Laughing Dog Press.
The process of assembling the guts of the book began with inserting the color pages and folding the four signatures. And then, we spent many hours together renewing and deepening our friendships as we completed the sewing of signatures and endpapers, prepared the covers and assembled the books. Slowly the pile of completed books has grown until we are now ready for this launch. What a gift!

The poems are personal, grounded in nature, and represent my growth as a poet and spiritual explorer. They spring from a time in my life when my focus centered on coming home to the song in my belly.