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Paul Revere's Other Ride

Paul Revere

Here’s a new version of Longfellow’s famous poem in a revolutionary format. Readers may buy this individual poem from the author in a "chapbook" format. Author and artist Nancy Grossman explains why she wanted to set history straight and make a living at the same time.


I have in my possession an item most rare, but maybe not for long. Writer, artist and bookseller Nancy Grossman of Portsmouth has composed a poem about Paul Revere’s ride. No, not the famous one in Massachusetts, but the "other" ride that Revere made up the wintry Boston Post Road to Portsmouth, New Hampshire on December 13, 1774. Her 130-line poem entitled "Paul Revere’s Other Ride" perfectly matches Longfellow’s original in meter and rhyme. But this one tells the little-known story of the alarm that led to a local uprising against British troops at Fort William and Mary in New Castle. The fort is still there.

Nancy has published the poem in an attractive booklet format and is offering it for sale. The idea is compelling; is it possible to sell poems one at a time? Portsmouth poet laureate Robert Dunn once sold his self-published work on the street for a penny. That is how he became "The Penny Poet". But Nancy’s beautifully printed brochure-shaped poem goes for $4.95. Will the public pony up a fiver for art?

"Why did I do it?," Nancy says. "Because it needed doing. I've met too many folks in this town, young and old, native and transplant, who've never heard the story. With all the poets Portsmouth has spawned over the decades, it's truly amazing that no one ever has."

"Last summer, I finally got curious," she says, after reading the essay on Paul Revere. "I looked up Longfellows’s original on the Net and gave it an adult read. I marveled at the sheer beauty of it -- not to mention the complexity and imagery. What a bizarre rhyme scheme! It really is a wonder."

Then followed months of sporadic research on the Portsmouth-Revere connection. As an English major, Nancy says, there is no quicker way to get inside the head of a writer, than to emulate the poet’s work. The self-publishing idea grew out of her experience creating a newsletter for a nonprofit group. Nancy explains:

"I love the chapbook format. It's just the right shape for a Christmas stocking. I've always been commercially motivated. I love making money, even if it's pocket change. I spoke with the Athenaeum, the Dunaway Store and River Run and they all agreed to carry it. With all the tourists Portsmouth attracts, plus a lot of locals with an interest in history, I think there's a good market for both."

Following its first appearance in The Portsmouth Herald, Nancy says, she got on order for 10 copies of "Paul Revere’s Other Ride". That’s a start.

We would love to see this handsomely packaged poem in a rack with a dozen other poems about Portsmouth history. We suggest the name "Pocket Poems" for the display rack. Carry them for inspiration. Read them at social gatherings. Use them as bookmarks. Give the gift of verse. Nancy suggests the motto should come from a line by John Adams -- "You're never alone with a poet in your pocket."

Commentary by J. Dennis Robinson

VISIT: Nancy Grossman's art site and request the poem by email

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 
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