‘Thin Times’: Paul Grant poetry book printed posthumously
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Over the years since its establishment out of Four Seasons Books, The Bookend Poets group has drawn a number of talented poets to its monthly meetings. Out of those meetings have developed a number of true friendships, founded on mutual respect for each other’s work.
One of those friends groups included that of Paul Grant, who passed away in 2019, Tom Donlon and Shepherdstown Poet Laureate Ed Zahniser.
“Paul and I and Tom Donlon were close friends of long standing,” Zahniser said. “I think we knew each other for 40 years or so through the Bookend Poets Group and also the regional literary journal Antietam Review, formerly of Hagerstown, Maryland. Paul was on the editorial staff there for several years.”
The loss of Paul was deeply felt by both The Bookend Poets and Paul’s “favorite” niece, Sheryl Grant, of Ohio. Sheryl, who is Paul’s estate executor, found herself wanting to commemorate her uncle’s legacy over the past year. After talking with Donlon and Zahniser, she decided to publish a selection of 48 poems Paul had compiled into a manuscript toward the end of his life. Donlon and Zahniser helped Sheryl sort through the poems and edit the book, which will be available for purchase at www.lulu.com on Monday. It will also soon be on the shelves of Four Seasons Books.
“This may be Paul’s first published book of poems,” Donlon said, which Zahniser confirmed. “When he passed, Ed and I wanted to follow up on getting a book published.”
According to Donlon, Paul’s preferred method of recording his poems turned out to be one of the major challenges in the project.
“His poems were all typewriter versions — not electronic,” Donlon said. “I typed up over 200 poems into Microsoft Word (many directly from the impressive poetry journal copies Paul had in storage bins), so we could review them and email them around to decide on which ones to include in the book.”
According to Zahniser, Paul was a well-known Shepherdstown figure, even though his residence was in Keedysville, Md. During his lifetime, 270 of his poems had been published locally, in both The Good News Paper and The Shepherdstown Chronicle, along with a number of the “top respected literary journals.”
“To my knowledge, this is the first posthumously published work by a member of The Bookend Poets group,” Zahniser said. “I would just have to say that it was Paul’s fate to be a poet! The extent of his manuscripts suggests as much.
“These are the poems of an accomplished artist working from a rich store of material steeped in the realities and mythologies of his growing-up years in Louisiana,” Zahniser said. “Paul Grant’s father, Lazime, was a butcher who contracted with lumber companies. Paul grew up around the slaughter house and its culture, and Paul was like a sponge for its ethos and lore.
“He had a fantastic sense of humor and a vast store of personal lore, not only from the slaughter house, but also from the world of poetry,” Zahniser said. “He was a meticulous craftsman as a poet.”