Becoming Bone, a collection based on the life of 19th-century American poet Celia Thaxter, was published in 2005 by the University of Arkansas Press. Celia Thaxter (1835-94) was born in Portsmouth NH. When she was four, her father took the position of lighthouse keeper at the remote Isles of Shoals, with a view to developing the islands. His business partner fell in love with Celia when she was 11, proposed when she was 12, and shortly after her sixteenth birthday they married. Thaxter rescued herself from the miseries of this marriage by redefining herself as poet and as artist.
In Praise of Becoming Bone
Mary Jo Salter, Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities, Mount Holyoke College, and editor of the Norton Anthology of Poetry:
Annie Boutelle has chosen, in reimagining Thaxter’s own voice, to dramatize hints, silences, and the sea. The sorrows and victories of Thaxter’s life are conveyed with sensual, sonorous richness, and yet understatement. And yet, if much of her inner life — like that of so many women (some of them writers) — went unwritten for a time, Becoming Bone has redressed the blankness with empathy, depth, and a keen intelligence.
Eleanor Wilner, Grace Hazard Conkling Writer in Residence at Smith,
and author of Reversing the Spell: New and Selected Poems:
Like whaler’s scrimshaw, images incised on shell and bone, Annie Boutelle’s lines seem etched, indelible — a laser-like intensity transmuting the most intractable materials. In a language as spare, exact, and essential as necessity itself — ‘past flattering chatter, hypocrisies lush as weed on harbor rock’ — Annie Boutelle tears aside the flowery veils of feminine concealment of another age, to give voice to the inner life of an islanded soul, the 19th-century writer Celia Thaxter.
Gerald Stern, former Poet Laureate of New Jersey, and author of This Time: New and Selected Poems :
This is a magnificent secret history — of a time we now know very little, in spite of its closeness, and of a remarkable spirit who lived in that time and is now forgotten. The poems are stark, original, lovely, the poetic knowledge terrific. I am convinced that Annie Boutelle is Celia Thaxter; only she (Annie) will not be forgotten. Read this fine book.