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Out and About with Rachel Morin: Pearl Tibbetts Sawyer, 90, publishes poetry collection

Pearl Tibbetts Sawyer and Rich Livingston

At February’s end, I joined friends, colleagues and family members in Auburn Public Library’s Androscoggin Community Room to hear poet Pearl Tibbetts Sawyer read from her latest book, “A Long String of Pearls.”

The appearance of this, her ninth published collection, coincided with her 90th birthday. Her first book, “Driftwood Chips,” came out in 2002, her 80th year, and she has been writing steadily ever since. “When I write about my life, my memories, my experiences, it is real, honest, and genuine,” she says of her work.

“A Long String of Pearls” includes 100 poems that are fresh, personal and deeply appreciative of the natural world. She has also included a few favorites from her previous publications, which are now out of print. Sawyer explains that her poems are not hers, but become the reader’s once they are read, based upon the reader’s feelings and interpretation.

Seated in an easy chair, Sawyer read several selections from her book, sometimes giving an anecdote here and there, to appreciative murmurs from the audience. She was impeccably and fashionably dressed, warm and gracious to everyone she met.

Keenly observant of life and everything it offers, her poems reflect her love of family, friends, nature, and wildlife. The corner windows in her home reflect these interests, with pink geraniums blooming on the sills and views of the wildlife outside. Binoculars, reading material and writing implements await her attention. A flower garden below awaits her spring step.

She has dedicated this book to her father, Alonzo Mayberry Tibbetts, “who taught me early on that words and their usage do make a difference.” The attractive cover is pristine white, with a long string of pearls gracing the front and continuing along the edge of the back cover. A photo of the author wearing her trademark pearls tops the back cover.

A role model for us all at age 90, Sawyer remains active at USM L-A Senior College, participating in classes and attending events. She is also an audience favorite at Androscoggin Readers’ Theater performances and writes for her church newsletter, “The Open Door,” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Auburn.

Sawyer’s other published collections include “Don’t Look Back” (2003), “On Mayfield Road” (2004), “The Dream Place” (2005), “Through the Window” (2007), “Hope is a Red Bird” (2008), “Bread and Other Poems” (2009) and “A Closer Walk” (2010).

She plans to give another reading at an undetermined date at Lewiston Public Library. In the meantime, copies of her new book are available at Percy’s Burrow at the Auburn Mall.

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