Friday, November 5, 2010

Novem-Beard Interview

Hello Teamies...
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.'"

The Boy Who Drew Cats Lafcadio Hearn

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.

Town Hall Tonight, American small town theater in the 1880s and 90s

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.

I have a blog, and I must post there more frequently:

Hanuman Monkey King Malaysian Shadow Puppet

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.

Thank you so much Joe!!


  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this and how I'd love to see the house your father built! We're living in a home that is over 100 years old now and it has a wonderful well-worn feeling to it.

    Mollie, if you don't mind me saying, you have quite the handsome husband ;)

    Thanks so much for sharing, Joe!

  2. Hey Joe!! So nice to get to "know" you a little better. Sounds like you and Mollie have a full, happy life, and that is good... :)
    Great interview!

  3. Well hey, looka there! It's my sweetie! Monica, I don't mind your saying that one bit - and yep, I agree! And Suz ... yes, we do!

    Thank you, Erica, for putting a big smile on my face! But Joe, I don't know about that "war club" business ... ;) xoxo

  4. Hi Joe! I know how it is with accumulating books--my husband has books EVERYWHERE!! You and he are kindred spirits! I love the "stay healthy, stay happy, stay here" philosophy! Wonderful interview!
    xo Cait

  5. I so enjoyed your interview Joe! Thank you so much for being our first guy to spill his story!

  6. Awesome-ness!! I have tears of Big Joy in my eyes after reading your interview Joe and getting to know you just that much more!! I'm with Monica, you are one Handsome Guy and I know Mollie doesn't mind!! Loved EVERY WORD and can't wait to hear more stories next year....
    Erica....most FUNtastic Interview yet again!

  7. So nice to meet you Joe! You two are just the best couple and I am so honored to know you both...
    Thanks for sharing you with us, Joe, and Erica, get job again...
    Stevie j

  8. I mean *great job* not get a job!! LMAO

    (quit coffee two days ago and still groggy)

  9. What a wonderful interview....the man behind the myth! I adore books...actually my son works at Powells in Portland, Or and is a book buyer. His degree is in English/creative writing....and guess what he wants to be when he grows up? Thanks Joe for entertaining us girls!

  10. What an awesome interview! Nice to hear a bit about you Joe. And I must mention how beautiful your cat is.

  11. Loved learning more about you, Joe. You and Mollie make the perfect couple!

  12. Agreed-good looking guy, great interview, loved reading this Joe; thanks, Erica. I've been wearing a hat from JimBob's,Denmark, maine at this family event I'm at..and thinking of you guys. Thanks, Erica for another good one!

  13. Wonderful interview!! Love that cat :)

  14. Nice to learn more about such a lovely couple . So much to offer the rest. Thanks for all you do . Great interview!


  15. Fabulous interview... What an awesome view Mollie and Joe have!Have loved his book shop a long time now.

  16. HUGE HUGS to my GORGEOUS AMIGOS Mollie and Joe
    What a PAIR XOXOX !!

  17. I love your passion Joe! Thanks Mollie and Joe for sharing this with us:-)

  18. And suddenly my heart feels a little warmer. :D

  19. What a fascinating story, Joe.. of course any man that Mollie chose would have to be pretty special!
    Thanks for sharing. You have a rich history and a poet's soul to match.
    Great interview, Erica! :)

  20. Always something special encased in Joe's words, whether here or in convos. Loved this interview and love this man and his wife!

  21. Great interview, Joe! You and Mollie are such an intersting couple. I plan on using your mother's quote about boredom on my son! Thanks!

  22. So happy to see and read all about you, Joe. I wish you had been my English teacher in school.
    I love the puppets. In fact I put one in my very first Team T! Great photo of "Moonbeam"...looks like a kitty I know.
    Thanks for opening the door to your lives. xo

  23. Thanks, Erica. And many thanks to all of you wonderful people who brighten our lives every day!


  24. I enjoyed this interview so much! I would love to see Joe with his "Indian War Club." That would just complete my day!

    Julie Magers Soulen Photography