Jewish World Review August 9, 1999 /27 Av, 5759
As a young copy boy for NBC News in Washington in the early '60s, I met Jack Perkins, who now co-hosts the popular "Biography'' program on the Arts & Entertainment cable TV network. Then Perkins held the unenviable position of "writer'' for David Brinkley -- unenviable because Brinkley wrote all of his own material.
Jack's career flourished anyway. When he hung up daily reporting after an anchor stint in Los Angeles, he and his wife, artist Mary Jo Perkins, moved to Maine where they live on an island during the summer months. From journalism, Jack has turned reflective, reaching inward to discover something about himself he had not known -- a creative ability as a photographer of things beautiful and a lyrical poetry that is the antithesis of broadcast news -- and outward to something and Someone beyond himself.
This lengthy gestation has produced poems and pictures -- "visions and verses,'' he calls them -- collected in a book called simply "Acadia'' for the national park on which it is based.
The appetite for poetry isn't what it was when I studied English literature in college. Before all-consuming television, freeways, the Internet and high-speed lives, there was time for reflection, observation and communication. Poetry is not fast food. It takes time, like a gourmet meal. Savored properly, it leaves a similarly pleasing taste in the memory.
One doesn't have to be in love with Maine, as I am, to appreciate "Acadia,'' for Maine is not only a place but also a state of mind. It is a place we might all wish to share if time and space and money allowed. In summer it is a respite for the weary. In winter it is a challenge to the hardiest of souls.
Next to a picture of tracks in the sand made by a higher tide and seaweed, Jack looks and sees hieroglyphs:
With a voice that combines the bass of James Earl Jones with the enunciation of Laurence Olivier, Jack captivates a packed public library with his considerable communicative skills. But it's more than pictures and verse he communicates. It is the peace for which we all search but not all find. It is expressed in his poem on faith, excerpted here. The verse is opposite a picture of a lighthouse set in granite adjacent to the sea:
"Acadia'' is more than a coffee table book. True, like coffee, it can be consumed for the
pleasures and comfort it brings. Yet like the national park in its title, the book is a wonder,
complementing memory and creating wishes. Its author, Jack Perkins, is a new creation,
iving on an island but more connected to life than ever. He has proved there is abundant life
after news, which is good news not only for a ``recovering'' journalist but for everyone