Published poet digs Bridgton

PUBLISHED POET — Daniel James Webb holds a copy of his book of prose, Short-Shorts, which is available at Bridgton Books. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

Daniel James Webb is living ‘the life of Riley.’

He sold a home in Cape Cod — he owned a home in Cape Cod, which he purchased when it was a buyer’s market and turned around during the seller’s market. He published a book of poetry called Short-Shorts. He is married to his muse Jessie; and the couple is living rent-free in Bridgton near the foothills of Pleasant Mountain.

“We skated out of Cape Cod with a good chunk of money,” he said.

“I am in love with the house we live in with our screen porch and fenced in backyard and woodstove. It’s the perfect home in a perfect town,” Webb said.

Webb’s in-laws, “William and Caroline Wandle bought a house in Knights Hill Association twenty five years ago, in 1993. They live in Walpole, Mass., full-time but still come up to visit,” he said. “It is great to see and meet everybody they have known for years in Knights Hill, and to develop our own relationships with them since we are here year-round. I feel in Knights Hill, people are very open to meeting my wife and I, in part due to the fact that Bill and Caroline have lived here for so long.”

Despite adoring the house, Webb and his wife are not homebodies. They frequently take advantage of the natural resources and local businesses in Bridgton.

“Every Saturday morning, without fail, my wife Jessie and I get all of our produce and some of our meats from the Bridgton Farmers Market. We usually stop at the Bridgton Books and Renys and Corncob Trading Shop.”

“I am working part-time at the Standard Gastropub as a chef, and I think they have the best food and beer in town. I have frequented the tap house bar many times before I moved up and have been in a few times since I moved here full-time,” Webb said.

“Also, I am a big fan of the Little Mountain Country Store. It’s the closest place to buy beer in case we are running low and don’t wanna drive all the way into town,” he said.

Beer (and its influence) appears frequently in Short-Shorts.

“I am big fan of Pondicherry Park. I have been hiking Pleasant Mountain for years. As part of living in Knights Hill Association, we have access to Hawk Road Pool and Moose Pond where we have kayaks and canoes in a reserved spot provided” by the association, he said.

“We spend most of our time down at Moose Pond with friends, kayaking or swimming, while looking up at Shawnee or on the quick watch for loons. I have always been a big hiking and nature freak,” he said.

When he leaves Bridgton, Webb hops on a bus.

“I also have spent a better part of the days reading books on Lakes Region Explorer to visit Portland. I lived in Portland for seven years after college,” he said.

Webb grew up in what he refers to as suburbia, the single-family homes with cul-de-sacs. He excelled at soccer and went to the University of South Maine-Portland on a soccer scholarship.

“Portland was my Greenwich Village: Poetry houses pass the basket coffeehouses, ale houses. It was a little compact city,” he said. “I wasn’t shackled by parents. Rent was cheap. We all worked in restaurant and drank. It was togetherness we had.”

His occupation is about a paycheck. His real love is reading and writing.

“I cannot stand cooking. The restaurant business drives me insane. What I do for a job doesn’t influence what I write about it. I come home and writing is my escape,” Webb said.

A few years ago, friends encouraged him to publish his poems. The process of getting published brought him into the technology age.

“I sent 10 poems to Olympia Publishers in London. They wanted more. I sent a giant manila folder of handwritten stuff. I got an e-mail from them: ‘Get a lap top and Microsoft Word.’ I am horrible with electronics. My buddy downloaded Microsoft Word for me. That was how I started communicating with the publisher. What I did. I banged out the rest of the book. I was on the deadline.

“To finish the last 20 or 30 pages, I checked into a hotel on the Cape. Bridgton is a tourist town but Cape Cod is really a tourist town. In the off season, you can get a hotel suite for $80. So, I told my wife, ‘I cannot write this with you and the dogs.’ I checked into the Smugglers Inn for a couple nights and banged out the end of the novel,” he said.

“I argue with my editor all the time. They want me to blogs, Twitter and I don’t do any of that,” he said.

“My wife Jessie has always been my main support system behind all of my writing or book reading or late night bike rides to the beach or my incessant obsession with books and poetry and music and crystal collecting. She is always patient and gentle with all the time I spend writing. I wouldn’t be able to dedicate myself to the blank page without my wonder-wife,” he said.

Webb plans to publish more books.

“I have anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 pages that I need to polish up before doing my next couple books,” he said.

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