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Walking Tour Maps
& Local Author Database
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patty rogers passionate spinster exeter

The Exeter LitFest has created two downloadable walking maps so you may go on self-guided tours any time of the year.  Each is approximately one mile in length and has plenty of benches and coffee shops along the route. In addition, we offer you a downloadable spreadsheet of Exeter authors, from the 1800’s to present (updated 12/2019), with links to Wikipedia pages and websites so you may investigate them in detail. We hope you become inspired to write your own great novel, short story, or poem!  

EXETER LITFEST WALKING TOUR: This 17-stop self-guided tour highlights some of our oldest authors including one of America’s very first female novelists, Tabitha Gilman Tenney (1801), and the abolitionist poet James Monroe Whitfield (1853). It also goes right up through some of today’s leading Exeter authors such as Joe Hill (Locke & Key), John Irving (Prayer for Owen Meaney) and Dan Brown (DaVinci Code). Walk along our smooth sidewalks and let your mind’s eye paint pictures of the scenes played out in some of your favorite books.


This 1.5 mile wheelchair-accessible loop through downtown Exeter is available for download as a PDF by clicking this link. This tour is also available in audio through your smartphone through the izi app.

SEPARATE PEACE TOUR: This self-guided tour takes you along with Gene and Phineas in John Knowle’s classic coming of age novel “A Separate Peace” (1959). The tour includes 17 stops, both on and off campus to many of the sites featured both in the book and in the 1972 film that was shot on location. 


This 1.5 mile wheelchair-accessible loop through Phineas’ world is available for download as a PDF by clicking this link. This tour is also available in audio through your smartphone through the izi app.

Exeter Author Database - A LitFest Exclusive

Click this link to view the Exeter Author Database as a PDF.



By Author, A-Z

(disclaimer - some of the formatting may have shifted)


The best way to see Exeter is simple: no car 
required. Take the Downeaster from Dover. 
It cuts through miles of woods, past farms, 

UNH, and hidden homes, then runs along 
the kayaks and sailboats on the Squamscott, 
Exeter’s water-road to the sea. You disembark 

at an old-fashioned station, walk along Main 
and Water Streets. Get breakfast at Me & Ollies, 
cross the String Bridge to the Public Library 

for a day-long poetry festival. Afterwards, 
get supper at the Italian restaurant, rummage 
through Water Street Books and head back  

to the station. Take a bench. Wait in the quiet 
for the train from Boston. Ride back to Dover 
with the stars in the dark. 


John-Michael Albert, Portsmouth



The sea shifts

and the wind and the sand,

such polyrhythms — this earthly agitation —


among the billion stars and stray planets

stretching out multitudes of light years, plowing

into the on-and-on emptiness, searchlighting.


How such a restless mess could pause

long enough to hammer out the blueprint of a cell,

then multiply it, add flagella, flippers, fins,

gills, lungs, the whole gamut of sensoria, is beyond me.

But I admire the unfailing desire to crawl out.


Above the sea, blustered about,

gannets circle and rise and arc across the sky,

fold in their wings and plummet —

bright white darts piercing the slate-green

roiling waves. Such a gorgeous,

splattering response, this

syncopated wing-dip and rise

of body and heart,


inhale and exhale

of pure hungering after.

F Michael Brosnan, Exeter


You, having ridden your bike

to the gym, discover

the combination to unlock it

from the rack when it’s time to leave

is missing from your brain, so

you fiddle for a while to no avail

then call the daughter who owns the lock

who does not answer

then call a friend to take you home

to retrieve the scrap of paper

with the numbers needed and, waiting,

you fiddle with the lock some more

and it opens so that when

the friend arrives and offers a ride

regardless, opening the hatchback

of her car like an invitation

you load the bike into the car

exactly before the deluge starts but

you think nothing of it.

Bill Burtis, Exeter


Maybe I should write a happy poem.

One about laughter and sunny days

And the joy you get,

Laying on the beach on the hot summer sand.

The very same sand that gets stuck to your back and your legs.

One about the sounds of the waves and the seagulls, 

The water stealing forgotten beach chairs, the latter stealing chips and watermelon. 

But I never did like the beach. 

Maybe I should write about hugs and love.

Now that I’ve found someone of my own again. 

But I always leave eventually,

Right when I get attached and want to hold on forever,

And cherish the memories I’ve made,

I let go because vulnerability is scary. 

So maybe I never liked hugs or love either.  

Maybe I should write about school,

How I work my ass off every day, 

For straight A’s and recognition,

When it’d be so much easier to just 

Move on and go to some third tier college.

Because maybe I just never cared about school either.

It must sound like I’m just not a happy person.

I do prefer to be alone

Then to take in the world around me and see all of the sadness and pain

That everyone has to go through eventually.

All of the sorrow. All of the heartbreak. All of the “I wish I hads” and “maybe ifs.”

The thirst for power 

Which will eventually drive every last person crazy.

So maybe there’s just no need for me to write a happy poem.

Kaelyn Cooper, Brentwood, Exeter High School ‘27


For Charlie and Joan Pratt

First November snow—

I am home making applesauce

with the last pick from a poet’s orchard.

I offer a taste to Lukas and get the look—

son to mother and mother to son.

Approval seems to come as fist to fist—

not as the high five I remember when he was nine and ten

batting and fielding—having a slice of luck on his side.

In my own confusion of his approval, he takes my hand

curls my fingers inward, shows me how it’s done

like champions without gloves.

Our knuckles, square—drive flat and hard.

And I get it like a reverent bow.

A kitchen stirs in the wake of a nineteen-year-old—

I am home making applesauce—

glad for the orchard, the tree

pleased for the apple, the seed and sun

grateful for the rain and the bee

the tender hands that touched the tree.

Sometimes thanks comes without table or chair—

sometimes it comes as apples on the stove

and a small taste from the wooden spoon.

Trina Daigle, Newmarket


I like high tides
how the dangerous salt engines
thunder and hurl
over and over
pounding and pulling sand
erasing and redrawing the wrack line
roaring at the air and anyone who
will listen

Every twelve hours
give or take
moon speaks
and ocean answers
a conversation
thrash of water walls that
tower curl then break
I watch smell listen
for ocean’s salty bellowed replies

Holley Daschbach, Exeter

we imagine ourselves still

after so many miles

the stream no longer

reminding me of the same

stream from our youth

time having slimmed it down

as it smiled for one’s phone

& we had made light of it

when not so alone

whether braided or straight

its surface sunlit or in-fits

its song shared by all, rare

whether seen from my sill

where I’m top-billed, a star

or I’m here, on its banks

where a heron is posing

& appears to give thanks

Mark DeCarteret, Rye


Though little snow has nestled us

this season, a cold snap descended

last night; felled the oaks of memory,

dammed electron bustle from home

to water pump, & left the winter birds

huddled far past their waking hour

of new solitude. Translate for us,

weatherman, this pendulum of freeze

& thaw which swings so wildly in these

final days. Where are we headed; who

knows the exit lane? At dawn, as our

collective breath hardens over the city

of industry, a chickadee, tucked alongside

another chickadee, has steeled herself

on parapet of the Hot Metal Street Bridge,

and though she cannot hope for spring—

not having the ancient mind—she makes

visible the crystal air with great insistence

that another world is coming. It has

a sound; a firmer home tucked warm

in the throat, where the song is formed.

Samantha DeFlitch, Portsmouth



Autumn reminds us with numb precision

It isn’t safe to love.

Its arias of attrition intone

Our fated anguish.

You reap sings the pungent

Field what you sow.

I swear I was just snipping daffodils, surprising

You with a jar of them on your desk!

Remember that? And when you said you

Loved me more than the green of summer?

Ironies abound. The absconding songbirds

Chitter about chickens coming home.

The morning glories double down,

Trumpeting purple across the trellis.

Why must my grief

Be the gate

You leave through, frozen

Ajar on its ancient hinges?

Maggie Dietz, Exeter    


Circled under a maple, sunlit autumn

leaves rustle. A movement

turns my head.

My gait changes

mid-stride to a slow-motion childhood

giant step; my foot falls into its

shadow—I am eye to eye

with a raptor.

Even the leaves are quiet.

The splayed belly

of a still-warm squirrel flashes scarlet

against a diorama turned sepia.

Captured by the now

swiveling head standing guard over

its slaughtered mid-day meal, my being

stalls in historical quivers—humbled

as hawk is hawk.

Heather Dupont, Greenland


Before there was the bell there was the law

of sunlight catching at the eddy’s drift

cut by a paddle as the birchbark slipped

farther upriver for the fabled bay;

law of the current, law of the tidal sway

lifting the whistling groaners and the gulls’

indignant mew upon the rolling mindlessness.

Before there was the bell there was the tongue

of the river’s always-opening mouth

speaking its one syllable, Now— Now—

over and over through the monthless months,

the yearless years. (And the eddy’s echo: Once.)

People would come in time to hear it tell,

but this was all of time, before the bell.

Todd Hearon, Exeter


We talked as Girls do—

Fond, and late—

Emily Dickinson

We fell in love the way girls do—

Braided one another’s hair—

Butterflies grew in our bellies

and telling private stories—became necessary.

We were nine years old—or maybe she was ten—

Often we sat cross-legged on her bed, holding hands.

She had thin blond hair—crooked teeth —

For Sure we’d be best friends, Forever—

I wrote letters to her all September—

even into October—No Reply—

November—a stack came back—

Return to Sender—Stamped— on every one.

Nancy Jean Hill, Exeter


Puppies in bunches, sleeping in bowls

Crowd together in fat parallel lines

Mostly dark or sepia-toned.

Amidst the brown a golden one

Squirms, mashed in the middle.


A hairy dog of dubious gray

Bends to nudge the babies

Wishing to harm or play

A bit of both, I’d say

Judging from my heart rate.


When I try to close the door

Technicolor cats want in

Gorgeous things and loud

A parade of them, slightly ominous

With an agenda all their own.


Anne Kipp, Exeter



I once had a parrot

Who ate only carrot.

I thought that was terribly funny.

Till he leapt from his cage

And as if on a stage

Went hopping around like a bunny.


J.D. Landis, Exeter



Five o’clock,

aged wooden bar

reminiscent of

a timeless space

   in Paris.


Flurries of snow dust 

the glass panes of windows,

an early March surprise.

Trees tapped for sap,

soon to be boiled down

       to sweetness.

A smoky drink of bourbon,

bitters, splash of maple syrup,

 echoes of a bittersweet winter.

A small booze-soaked cherry

lingers on the tongue

like so many

kisses once savored

 during riper seasons.

Suzanne  Laurent, Portsmouth  


Nana and Grandad in Wentworth Hall; dorm parents.

We four children fly like banshees through hallowed halls.

Count and hide, duck into forbidden rooms

Studded with velvet armchairs, full bookshelves.

Christmas break, reality suspended,

no crowds of boys in blazers. 

We read classics, absorb Beethoven symphonies to our cores,

play cards on oriental-carpeted floors,

Sleep in high metal beds, with starched pillowcases

and counterpane spreads.

Christmas Eve, after the snowy walk to church,

the pageantry,

We rush to brush our teeth against sugarplums,

then straightaway to bed.

The glass transom above each door leans open

to pass the heat.

As eyes close, we ponder Santa in the pulse of echoed space.

Erine Leigh, Portsmouth


Life seemed simple. Children were born, grew,

entered the world of the older Giants. Us. We.

We stayed much the same. Time flew

away, days caught the hours in nets of work

and life at home: meals cooked and eaten;

the half-adults instructed not to shirk

responsibility, leave essays unwritten.

And Life seemed hectic: the half-adults

needed wheels to everywhere. Elephants now,

clumsy with our own lives’ demands,

We lumbered through gymnastics,

band practice, school adventures. Time fled,

stirring up dust, as We nosed them ahead

into unknown lands.

Then Life seemed broken. We became Birds

and away they flew, falling out of our serial nests

to flutter, flitter, flounder, and find their feet:

college, marriage, journeys far away,

leaving Us to mourn what went too fast, too soon:

their smallness, sweet smiles, tears, dear things.

Above the lake, their bedrooms then

were empty of all but the call of a loon.

And suddenly, half of Us was gone

as if vanished in the night.

Life’s at its simplest now:

Half empty. All twilight.

Pamela Marks, Exeter


Chicken livers fried,

calves’ liver grilled,

best of all, my own,

just now soaking

in a savory marinade

of malt, juniper,

and old vine wine,

as it will again tomorrow

and, given some restraint,

again and again

for decades to come,

regardless of wars,


and paroxysms of the heart,

its crazy upstairs neighbor.

All I know is,

whoever named this organ

named it well.

Andrew Merton, Durham


Tinctures of browns on blue, of creek

and clay, firmament and earth, a breeze

blows through and September swaggers

in, a slim hipped boy smiling cool crooked

teeth into the late inning lips of August,

infield turf burnt gold by caesarian gaze,

outfield elms swollen too green to breathe,

as the lanky angles of this kid’s long shadows

run nails across the hot diurnal drag of dirt,

of dust, kicking up us as we click heels home

a little earlier, the evening cutting into bone

a little longer, as summer swings for the fences

only to whiff and walk off while in the pitch

of pines the autumn wolf grins into his glove.

Matt W. Miller, Exeter


Light came down like a word.

It looked like something was being said.

Its sound could not be heard.

But in the blue, it could be read.

It was the streaks, the streams,

that held the words the way they did.

The words were born in dreams,

and when they touched the ground, they hid.

Some words grew to be green,

they seemed to say attend to them.

And spaces in between

would have the light extend to them.

Some words moved like a bird—

They lived in everything that grew.

And all of them preferred

not to share what the starlight knew.

Bob Moore, East Kingston


What we learn from winter: morning has sharp teeth,

life is a process of consuming, of building reserves,

conserving more than we cast off.

The cold months would unspool our calories,

unbundling our stores to heat its vast, glassy halls.

So we learn what the beasts already know:

fatten up, hunker down in feathered bunkers,

tunnels of fur and flannel, sleep like black bear

or gorge on oil-rich seed, and make burnt offerings

to the Snow Queen and the North Wind

on the altars of Jøtul, of Vermont Castings;

Under horse-hide blankets dream of blackberries.

Andrew C. Periale, Strafford


Nothing matters.

Everything goes.

I propose your head.

You scratch yours,

look out the window.

You propose mine.

That’s fine. Call it a tie.

Off with them both.

Two heads are better than one.

John Perrault, North Hampton


I was skyscraper,

girded to the stars,

blurry with city shine.

I am sidewalk now,

cracked in curious ways,

runway for scuttling

beetles and pavement

ants that race back

and forth for dinner.

I used to think this

a loss, down low

on this uneven, 

overlooked spot, 

crushed and scuffed

by well-worn soles.

But look closely, tree roots

uplift fresh soil, mica

glistens in concrete.

Kyle Potvin, Exeter


It’s not so much a departure as an arrival,

Or rather, having arrived—as when, out driving,

You pass an orchard on a southward hill,

Old apple trees aslant in heaps of prunings.

For Sale. What do you know of apples? Still,

One morning you wake up under a different ceiling.

And feeling that you’ve not chosen but been chosen,

Are something less than owner, more than guest.

You fertilize and mow, attend the slow

Growth of apples readying for harvest,

And settle into place like leaves or snow,

Unfold like a letter delivered as addressed.

Charlie Pratt, Brentwood, 1935-2012


Snowmelt sounds like applause

slapping the flooded dooryards.

From the sky, each gull cries

a child’s laughter. The river

cheers its own weight,

having recently become

not just one thing, but many.

Jessica Purdy, Exeter


Evening light – the sky a muddy x-ray of the human chest

I stand on a bluff over the Gulf of St. Lawrence

watching my wife and son meandering on the beach below.

I try to absorb my fear that night is coming too quickly—

can this new overlook honor the long path,

the dark beginnings that brought me to this place?

The Buddhist monk who gives us a tour of the Abbey

speaks of his teachers, his teachers’ teachers, and their teachers

--tracing the wisdom’s lineage back more than two thousand years.

We sit together in their shrine room overlooking the sea: my son

plays with different instruments—then settles on striking the gong:

we feel its vibrations merge with our words.

The next day, in a boat moving along the coast far below the Abbey,

while we search for pilot whales and seals in a late afternoon coolness,

I recall the monk’s translation of the name he has been given:

one who is not afraid of fear, a warrior of tenderness.

Harvey Shepard, Exeter    1938-2022


My father’s bomber lost its tail here, ditched

into Alps after flattening a factory

(ball bearing). Steyr, famous for blades

since the 12th century, then for jamming

gun barrels between the ribs of the 20th,

production limited to bikes and cars post-

War but DNA riding double with Waffenräder

(“weapon bicycles”) to the Anschluss, when Reichswerke

reloaded. Schubert bagged a patron here,

the effervescent triplets of his “Trout” Quintet;

we’re on the Enns—Danube tributary and habitat

for namesake species (brook, rainbow, grayling)

all riffle and rifle, pool and pistol,

finning the hotbed, the slaughterhouse of melody.

Ralph Sneeden, Exeter


I count twelve pears in the cardboard packaging.

I’d picked them up from the doorstep.

In the thick afternoon, the ripe sun drips

across the oriental rug.

Condolences the note says.


Ten days earlier I slid through

my phone contacts in bed, recited

the digits of Wai Gong’s number

in Mandarin. The moon spun and

I remembered years ago

how my mother always handed

me the phone after she had urged

him to take his medicine.

The words I wanted to say

clotted on my tongue.

I covered my small face and shied away.

I erased his number in the morning.

Golden skin, white flesh, clear juice dribbles

The Chinese word for pear is a homophone for separation.

I turn it over in my mouth.

Ariana Solomon, Phillips Exeter Academy ‘24


One with a sky wiped clean

of yellow stars and no gods who look

like us spouting off our limited language.

A day without coats and their deep

pockets of lint and crumbs reminding us

some hearts are full of money and some hands

are so cold. Such cold! A day like today

one where the ocean opens out

not a single snow-covered mountain

pass to trudge through nor grave to dig

nothing for history to be ashamed of

in the centuries to come, for it is summer

this one day, and the ships are sailing

with or without us, it is true, but at least

they look picturesque. So a day like today

billows into possible dream

an army the color of hope. Yes

we could all use just one day like today

the color of what we want remembered.


S Stephanie, Rollinsford



The afternoon is so warm,

and the soil deep-soaked from rains

that even the dying maple has buds

burgundy as the mock asparagus

that will become peonies.

Forsythia, near-drowned in March flood

tosses her hair

and names the day – yellow.

We, too, seasonally ill-disposed

to solitude, talk carefully

of weather so suddenly lovely,

and claim almost instinctively

what is important to each of us alone,

but better scrabbled with others

in plain and vernal words …

"Now, I call this spring, am I right?"

"Nice t'see the sun."

"Yup. Decent day for cleaning up."

"Bit warm, don’t you think?"

"They say it’s set to break a record."

Maren C. Tirabassi, Kittery, ME



The Democratic Advocate

Westminster, Md.

July 28, 1883

William Pitt Brown,

a brick-layer

of Baltimore,


to hang himself

last week,


the rope broke

and the next day

Brown went

to brick-laying


Tammi Truax, Eliot, ME


Eyes of coral, breath  

Of salt air, and the mane   

Of the sun. 

Face the round light above 

The dry sewer cave I pretended  

Was home in my teens. 

Cheeks the moth wings 

I pinned to a board as a child  

In August’s slow burning fuse.

Voice a slow turning of sheet 

Music on a cellist’s stand. 

Lips a ballad in a minor key. 

Hands a snowstorm in early spring. 

Arms a river flowing

Back into still ice.  

Heart a cross on a bare wall. 

William Varner, South Berwick, ME


Exeter, New Hampshire, June 26, 1982

This old Yankee town sets its own dates,

But from year to year I forget them.

So when the first charge of powder burst

Like a ship’s shell in the darkening

sky beyond our neighbor’s house tonight,

I remembered the evening news,

the assault on Beirut, everyone

racing through the crumbling streets, children

lying frightened in damaged hospitals.

My wife and child, knowing all along

that the Fourth comes early here, cheered

with excitement and trotted over to the park

by the river, where everyone

was watching the festive streaks and flashes

lighting the local sky with sudden spangles

of gold, white, red, and filling the summer air

with the shouts of innocent bombs.

David Weber, 1943-2023

Founding member, Exeter LitFest


Look straight into it. There are no words for it,

the unknowable, inaudible vapor trail

we ride.

I’m not afraid, my friend says, her bedside lamp

dressed in silk, her kiln between firings.

She hands me a porcelain bowl with a gold-leafed

repair –

              a crack filled with light.

For the soul to exit? No, she says, for the unexpected,

– the gate left open.

for Kit

Mimi White, Exeter

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