A Letter From the Editor

Dominic Piacentini

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology & Environmental Policy
University of Maine

Welcome to Spire’s seventh issue! We are glad to announce Leslie Moore as the winner of this year’s cover design contest. Her linoleum block print “Hunters’ Moon” and her series of paired prints and poems are a bright look into the eccentric wildlife of Maine. As we received submissions this year, I was thrilled by the diversity of the pieces and inspired by the contributors’ engagements with conservation and sustainability in Maine. In an increasingly uncertain world, one filled with dire climate predictions and toxic landscapes, the pieces here are a testament to Mainers’ commitment to their environment.

The authors in this issue do not shy away from the feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger that come from living in times like these. Alice Hotopp’s “Fieldnotes on Grief” poignantly reckons with ecologies of loss and the emotional and psychological strain of studying disappearing ecosystems. In Lucia Owen’s “Gypsy Moths,” the speaker wrestles with futility, wielding “feeble brooms” against the vanguard of invasions to come — of emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid. And in “Product,” Jim Krosschell offers a fiery indictment of the roots of our ecological crises. In the issue, authors reflect on environmental changes to their home, like Vi Nelson’s plaster sculpture, “Bustins on Ice” and Erin Coughin’s art series of discarded, coastline objects on Allen Island. At the same time, many are finding new notions of “home” in bogs and in snowfall. Amid the sadness, anger, and frustration — which are all very real — contributions such as John Paul Caponigro’s “I, You, They, Us, We,” and Tamra Benson’s love letter to Braiding Sweetgrass illustrate new (and old) ways of mutual thriving. In this issue, you will find hopeful invitations to rethink local to global climate governance, sustainable agriculture, and materials reuse in Maine. I think in Spire’s seventh issue, you will see a great deal of honesty and vulnerability, but you will also see hope and inspiration for sustainable, equitable solutions.

Although in many ways, we are still in the throes of a global pandemic, I was glad that the editorial team was able to periodically get off of Zoom this year to meet and celebrate the release of the issue in person for the first time since 2020. We received more submissions this year than in any previous year, and the production of the issue would not have been possible without the help of our committed editors — Gabrielle Hillyer, Elizabeth Payne, Michelle Hoekel-Neal, Katie Matthews, Harrison Goldspiel, Marissa Ander, Braden Collard, Sara Delaney, Rebecca Champagne, Sophia Colfer, Julia Schneider, Neily Raymond, Rachel Swanwick, and Cheyenne Hebert. Special thanks go to Val Watson who managed Spire’s social media accounts. (Check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter if you haven’t already!) Thanks also go to our faculty director, Dr. Dan Dixon, and Spire’s co-editor in chief, Clinton Spaulding for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for the journal’s mission.

I thoroughly enjoyed serving as editor in chief of the seventh issue and getting to know poets, artists, and essayists across the state. I am happy to say that Cora Saddler, MA student in English, will be next year’s editor in chief. Cora has been a valuable member of our editorial team and a great help in getting this issue put together. As Spire continues to grow and change, I can’t wait to see what Cora is able to do with the eighth issue. I’m already looking forward to reading it.

Happy Reading,

Dominic Piacentini
Editor in Chief