Welcome to Novem-Beard, where we will be honoring and getting to know the men of our team!
Hi there! I'm Joe, and my shop is ProsperosBookshelf. I live with my wife Mollie and Kitty Moonbeam on the coast of Maine.
Born in Portland, Maine, inspired by childhood summers on the shores of Sebago Lake, educated through the generosity of the GI Bill, I turned my early love of reading into a career of teaching and research as a professor of English. Over the years I accumulated a substantial library, along with a collection of curious theatre memorabilia. As time passes and life changes, one starts wondering: What on earth shall I do with all this stuff?
I found the answer as Mollie expanded our knowledge of the internet. Having explored our genealogy, we learned that an ancestor was a voyager on the Sea Adventure, the wrecked ship that inspired Shakespeare to write "The Tempest." In the magician's declaration near the end of the play, "This Rough Magic I hear abjure," Mollie found the name of her shop, RoughMagic Creations, and I borrowed the magician's name for my shop: Prospero's Bookshelf.
I have a second shop, FeedbackTheatrebooks. In our business Partnership (est. 1983) Mollie and I publish theatre books and pre-World War I American plays for university courses. I now list those plays in this shop, along with the more esoteric vintage books from our library.
I learned about EPE from Mollie. Laura had purchased some copper blanks from us, and she quickly became a good friend. When she was diagnosed with cancer, the word spread, and the world changed.
My favorite item from Prospero's Bookshelf is a small, colorfully illustrated book, printed in Japan on "crepe paper," entitled "The Boy Who Drew Cats." It's a Japanese fairy tale translated into English by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). I can't remember which dusty book store I was poking around in when I found it, but the book's singluar character was irresistable. There is much that I would love to say about Hearn, a Greek-Irish-American author who became a Japanese citizen, but for now I'll quote a critic: "At his best, Hearn evokes both in form and content an ethos 'as gentle as the light of dreaming.'"
It is difficult to choose one favorite possession, but I'll settle on a hand saw that my father used. It has a handcarved handle with finger holes and is very comfortable in my hands. Although not a carpenter by trade, my father built our family home, including beautiful oak china cabinets and fireplace surround. His father, however, was a carpenter who died after falling off a schoolhouse roof when Dad was very young. The home my father built still stands, well kept and handsome after all almost 100 years. And Dad's saw - I use it all the time and keep it in my grandfather's tool chest.
I guess that I would have to say that along with rocks, sand from beaches I've visited, birch bark and different varieties of moss, I still collect books. I can't seem to sell them in my shops as fast as they accumulate on my shelves, tables and every other flat surface.
Personally, Mollie and I have a mantra relative to all future dates: Stay happy; stay healthy; stay here. (Here being the sprawling old house we love and have renovated room by room over the past 21 years.)
Artistic endeavors. I have always enjoyed "doing things" - the legacy of a stern mother who did not tolerate childish complaints about boredom: "You find something to do, or I will find something for you." I don't remember ever complaining. The problem is that I never think of the things I do as "artistic endeavors." I like to make the things in copper that Mollie uses in her designs, and I hope to get better. As a teenager, I made a "Indian War Club" by uprooting a small birch tree, sharpening the roots into points, varnishing it and adding a leather thong to the handle. It looked fierce in the corner of my room, and I'l like make another one. But artistic? I doubt it.