A Special Night in Willimantic: A Reading by Doug Anderson & a Celebration of Judy Doyle Upon Her Retirement from Curbstone Press

Curbstonistas gathered last night for the last Poetry in the Park reading of the summer, though with rain in the forecast the event was moved to the Windham Arts Center on Main Street. The upstairs gathering room was packed with loyal Curbstone supporters who came from far and near, some who were Curbstonistas from the first days.

Doug Anderson read from his newly released memoir Keep Your Head Down (he will be at the Co-op on Sept. 15). The audience was rapt, laughing and holding their breaths, as they listened intently. He’s a good reader with a soft voice that carries.

And then we honored Judy Doyle. I was not there in the first days, but I have been on Curbstone’s Board for more than 25 years and have seen the press change from a tiny operation with a little printing press in the basement to the publisher of Le Clezio, this year’s Noble prizewinner for literature. It was fun to hear the reminiscences, the accolades, the First Selectperson’s Proclamation. I read bits of a profile I’d written of Judy for The Feminist Bookstore News a year after Curbstone purchased a used Heidelberg Kord. Throughout Curbstone’s history, Judy has been master of book production. In the early years, she actually printed the books herself.

Here’s a tidbit from that 1989 piece.
“Judy Doyle pulls a freshly printed page from her press and shakes her head in dismay. She is reprinting Margaret Randall’s Memory Says Yes

Judy Doyle

Judy Doyle

and a nearly invisible ink spot is appearing on the pages. She shuts the press down and cleans the plate. Then she starts the press and it clatters and hisses and fills the garage where she is working with its loud and rhythmic sounds….

“ I love to work with this press,” Doyle says….The miniscule spot is still appearing on the pages and she shuts the press down for a second time and once more cleans the plate. Satisfied that she has removed the offending blotch, she starts the Heidelberg. The machine lifts sheets of paper, one at a time, and takes them inside itself, across the blanket and then spits the finished sheets back out in a neat stack. Doyle snatches one of the first pages. Perfect. She is pleased. Doyle demands perfection in her work.”

I think Judy was pleased with the evening. I know I was. And be assured that Curbstone will live on. But an era has ended. Thank you Judy for all that you have given to Curbstone and literature and to our community. And thank you Sandy wherever you are.


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