Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, is leaving the organization he has led for nine years to become editorial director of the Boston publishing house David R. Godine. Bodwell, 43 of Biddeford, will finish his duties with MWPA on May 31.

He stopped short of calling his new position a dream job. “It’s more complex than that,” he said. “I never dreamt this could be a possibility, so it’s not necessarily a dream job because I never dreamt it could happen. I did not expect to find myself to be in a position to even consider this professional move. I am thrilled.”

Joshua Bodwell is leaving the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance to join David R. Godine as editorial director. Photography by Curt Richter

The alliance’s associate director, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, will serve as interim director. In a press release, the alliance’s board president, Deborah Cummins, said plans to replace Bodwell will be announced “in coming months.” She credited his “visionary leadership” with the growth, stability and influence of the alliance on Maine’s cultural communities.

The alliance has about 1,400 members, and last year engaged 2,500 people statewide through workshops, events and literary gatherings, she said. In 2018, it hosted 74 workshops, including four multiday conferences and 100 free readings or community events. It also offered more than $22,000 in scholarships to Maine writers.

“As we look to the future, the board and staff are ready and prepared to continue Josh’s excellent stewardship of MWPA and grow our programs around the state,” Cummins said in a statement. “The MWPA board’s executive committee is deliberating on next steps to name a new executive director, and will announce those plans in coming months.”

Godine is a small, independent publisher, and highly regarded for producing elegant books that reflect the aesthetic and editorial tastes of the founder. As editorial director, Bodwell will be responsible for all editorial decisions, assuming the responsibilities from Godine, who began the publishing house in 1970. That’s a heavy responsibility, and serves as a timely reminder with Godine’s 50th anniversary next year that publishing is a personal business based on trust between readers and editors, Bodwell said.

“We forget sometimes when we buy a book from Knopf or Simon and Schuster or Houghton Mifflin, those are people’s last names. Alfred A. Knopf was a guy. There is so much separation now from when Charles Scribner walked the halls of Scribner,” Bodwell said. “I am the first person not named David R. Godine to step into this particular role. I am sure that feels a lot heavier to me than to others who are less nerdy and obsessive about publishing than I am. It’s a huge honor and a huge obligation to step up to the standards of the house and to perpetuate and evolve them.”

Godine publishes between 30 and 40 titles a year, according to its website. Bodwell worked with Godine as editor of the three-volume collection of short stories and novellas by the late Andre Dubus, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “The Winter Father” and “The Cross Country Runner.”

 

 


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