The Images of John Duncan
Revisiting the 1970s in Portland, Maine
In images shot while hanging with friends, walking the streets, or driving his taxi in the 1970s, John Duncan emotionally and evocatively captured the innocence, mood, fun, spirit, struggle, and melancholy of a city and its people during an iconic era.
Lilit Danielyan, a self-taught visual artist living in Portland, has shot and edited full-page black and white portraits to accompany each of the twenty stories featured in Dear Maine: The Trials and Triumphs of Maine’s 21st Century Immigrants. Scheduled for release in November, the book tells the remarkable stories of immigrants who have moved to Maine in the past few decades. An immigrant herself, Danielyan has been working on documentary photography projects exploring the subjects of identity, belonging, and nostalgia since 2015. Born in Armenia during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war, Danielyan and her family moved to Central Kazakhstan shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her first camera was a Soviet-made Zenit that she used to record images of her family, their village, and the world in the aftermath of the conflicts. She immigrated to the United States alone in 2012 seeking to further her education. Once in the United States, Danielyan received an honorable mention at the International Documentary Photography Competition for a photo essay about her grandmother and became a Sam Abell Endowed Scholarship recipient at the Maine Media Workshops + College. She is now studying psychology and film at Smith College in Massachusetts. She also studied International Relations from Karaganda State University in Kazakhstan. “Lilit’s striking black and white portraits are not only beautiful images of people, but works of art in their own right,” said Dean Lunt, editor-in-chief of Islandport Press. “As is the case with great photojournalism and documentary photography, her photos and her style help capture the essence of her subjects and serve to greatly enhance the text.”
From Six Feet Away
by Dave Dostie
During the pandemic that has crippled the Maine economy and forced people, at times, into near isolation, photographer Dave Dostie has travelled about Central Maine to capture people still living their lives and helping the community.
All from six feet away.
Ain't Nothin' Like a Puffin
Photo by Dave Dostie
Lens on History
A Hardscrabble Life
by Dean Lunt
Look at Hezekiah’s hands. Look at those tired eyes. Look at that stooped stance and the partially-buttoned sweater, open at the bottom. Look at Lydia’s homemade dress, her pulled-back hair, and her stern away-from-the-camera stare. Both are exhausted. These are the participation ribbons of a hard life. A 19th Century Maine life.
Hezekiah W. Lunt, my great-great-great grandfather, was born in a fledgling fishing village eight miles to sea. He worked as a fisherman—catching mackerel, maybe some cod— before fighting in the Civil War. He returned home with injuries that would render him near helpless as an older man. He and Lydia had fourteen children, although not all lived. He fought with the 11th Maine helping General Grant chase Robert E. Lee across the Old Dominion to Appomattox. I like to imagine he met the great Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at the surrender and that the young fisherman stood witness to the “awed stillness” as Confederate soldiers lay down arms “as if it were the passing of the dead,” according to Chambelain. A mere six days later, he was in Maryland when President Lincoln was assassinated. I like to think he shed a tear for the great man. He must have wondered: what will beocme of us?
In the summer of 1865, he returned to an island radically changing as the old fishing economy collapsed and would not recover until rescued by lobsters decades later. Like many, he and Lydia set about scratching out a living from hardscrabble ground. By late century, he survived mostly off a monthly veteran’s disability pension of $6 and the few spare dollars he earned gathering wood for the island’s one-room school.
The backdrop to this picture is their weather-beaten home, located on land I now own. The house stood empty just a few dozen yards from a hillside field where a smattering of field stones still mark the shallow, hand-dug graves of his family and who knows how many others—they are lost to history. Hezekiah himself lay on that hillside for more than eighty years also in an unmarked grave.
In the late nineties, I asked the United States government for an official military stone. Months later, it arrived—a tall, white marker like you see in seemingly endless rows at Arlington. Only on Frenchboro it stands alone amongst the waving summer grasses, a dignified and proper sentinel watching silently over a lonely hillside of the forgotten.