Gloucester Sailor, Howard Blackburn, etching, 9" x 12", drawn from the photograph by Leonard Craske in Lone Voyager by Joe Garland. 


Joe commisioned me to do the etching of Blackbiurn. I had the first edition of Lone Yoyager and used a clear photograph of the fisherman, adventurer. I saw a later paperback edition that contained a photo credit that the first edition did not have. I said to Joe, this is wonderful that Leonard Kraske, sculptor of The Man at The Wheel, took this photo, that means they knew eachother. Joe, the great historian responded in his usual crusty voice, "Yes, everybody knows Kraske took that picture of Howard."

I made the dotted lines on the etching with a pizza cutter. I'm not sure why, except it was a time in Early Modern Art to experiment with the relationship between form and content, and I was deconstructing mediums, for example, wanting to push etching to the limit.

The Ballad of Howard Blackburn,  Written and performed by my son Edmund M. Sullivan, Eddy Boston, filmed in the studio of my house on Mansfield Street in Gloucester.

The lyrics, I love the chorus, It is simlar to Psalm 107 at the Fishermen's Memorial. 

The Ballad of Howard Blackburn

My father was a fisherman, as his father before;

Their sails are both furled now, they're not fishing no more.

But I can't stay on dry land; I've a seafaring soul,

So I joined the Grace Fears, out trawling the shoals.



They that go down to the sea in ships,

Only they know the song I sing.

They mount up to Heaven.

They go down again.

Living the life of the wind.


The clouds on the masthead showed a good sign;

Me and Tommy took our dory and we hove out our line.

But the angels weren't smiling that February day,

And the wind changed direction and drove us away.


And the storm kept on rising, snow stole away our sight.

We lowered our anchor to wait out the night.

But as the snow stopped falling, as the morning came on,

Me and Tommy said nothing: The Grace Fears was gone.




I took off my mittens to untie the line,

And Tommy started bailing as we fought off the brine.

I lost my gloves overboard, and my friend lost his will,

And I felt the blood stop flowing as we fought off the chill.


But I kept on rowing, as my friend closed his eyes:

"Just a little nap," he said, as the cold took his life.

I raised the useless claws where my hands used to be.

I said, "Lord please save me! Make calm the sea."




The saints and the angels looked down on those claws

And laughed 'cause they all know an impossible cause,

But a Gloucesterman knows, if he knows his own name,

Not to ever stop rowing, though it may seem in vain.


Six days and 60 miles, till my arms said, "No more."

But there on the horizon, the Newfoundland Shore.

I yelled to the ocean, as I lifted my arms,

"Try what you will, I still live on!"