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Tag Archives: maine poetry

Childhood memory

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This is an evocative poem by George VanDeventer, a largely unsung hero of Maine literature.  George is a Bristol, Maine resident who has been writing, publishing, teaching and promoting poetry in Maine for decades.  George started the poetry journal OFF THE COAST and ran it for many years, giving countless  Maine poets of all ages their first publication. Now in his eighties, George continues to write, tackle ambitious gardening projects, and help promote poetry.

 

Thomas Street, Newark, 1943

My dog has a special place to go.
I sweep away the waste
for the begonias next spring.
Sunflowers rise off the railroad bank.

My Sicilian neighbor walks his goats
early every Sunday morning,
to nibble the dandelions
on a hill that rises to a railroad track,
sunflowers, thistles and old freight cars.

A pony pulls a decorated yellow wagon,
four children and a man
sitting upright
clip-clopping cobbled Thomas Street.

People from away, so near,
I watch them passing –
gesticulating in the air –

with four children in a yellow wagon,
a pony and a man.

sunflowers RR track.jpg

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Poets Laureate – dedication to poetry

lupines near Acadia June 2005
I want to sing the praises of poets laureate, many of whom are unpaid and work with little direction or support. Portland, Maine has a Poet Laureate program that is pretty new; there have been four so far: Martin Steingesser, Steve Luttrell, Bruce Spang and Marcia Brown, the current laureate. These poets are chosen for their long service to poetry – not just writing and publishing their work, but also teaching, running events, keeping a literary journal going for decades, showing up for others' readings, and generally promoting poetry in myriad ways. Each brings something unique to the post. Marcia's first big project was to put together, edit and publish an excellent anthology of poetry (loosely) based around Portland. Other towns in Maine have laureates, too, including Belfast.

On the state level, Maine has had wonderful poets laureate. Kate Barnes, Baron Wormser, Betsy Sholl and now Wes McNair have all served with distinction. Wes has organized the Maine Poetry Express readings all over the state involving many poets, and continues with the terrific Take Heart poetry feature in Maine newspapers. The latter has brought poetry into the daily lives of many readers who might not otherwise encounter it. (The poetry has been collected in the TAKE HEART anthology published by Down East.) I praise this not only because it contains the work of many Moon Pie Press poets. It's heartening to see so much creativity coming out of the laureate programs. I hope you will support events involving the city and state laureates.

Honoring the memory of a poetry ambassador

Michael Macklin

M Leavitt photo (2)

MICHAEL MACKLIN AND MICHELE LEAVITT

On the night of Nov. 1 Michele Leavitt of Unity, Maine, winner of the first Michael Macklin Prize poetry contest, read from her book BACK EAST at Longfellow Books in Portland to a big crowd. Dennis Camire of Maine Poetry Central, whose idea it was to honor Michael with this ongoing contest, spoke movingly of how dedicated Michael was to poetry, often at the expense of promoting or publishing his own work. Michael came to poetry later in life and embraced everything about it with passion. He was a natural performer and teacher with a mellifluous voice and great generosity of spirit. I think he would have liked seeing so many of his friends at his favorite bookstore, listening to some of his poems and then Michele’s powerful work. It is a privilege to be involved in this project. That evening left me feeling newly energized about the worth of poetry, and grateful for being part of the rich, diverse Maine poetry community.

Warm October

apples

fall in New England

My window boxes are still blooming, and so is a pink rose in my yard – most unusual for October in Maine. I had to mow the lawn today – usually by October that particular chore is done until spring. Last weekend I went to the Cumberland Fair and tomorrow I’m going apple picking. The state has officially declared the fall foliage to be at its peak. The pleasures of autumn in New England! The poetry scene here gets more varied this time of year, too, with slam, open mikes, featured poets and many kinds of readings and festivals all over the state. Maine Poetry Central and Moon Pie Press just released the first winner of the Michael Macklin Prize contest, a wonderful poetry collection by Michele Leavitt of Unity, Maine, called BACK EAST. It is already selling briskly and I am delighted. Michele will have a “launch” reading on November 1 at Longfellow Books in downtown Portland; details will be on the MPP website at http://www.moonpiepress.com. Other readings will happen, too. I hope to see you at a poetry event this season.

Please spread the word – new poetry contest – the Michael Macklin Book Prize 2013

Michael Macklin pensive
Maine Poetry Central, the Portland Poet Laureate Program and Moon Pie Press are seeking submissions for this contest, which honors the late Portland poet Michael Macklin, who died last May. The contest is open to all New England poets 40 and older who have never had a full-length book of poetry published. (Chapbooks and other genres don’t count for this contest.) The winning book will be published in fall 2013. The winner will receive a number of copies of the book, a cash prize to be determined, and will have some readings arranged. Deadline for submitting is June 1, 2013.
Reading fee is $20.00 payble to Moon Pie Press.
Send manuscripts 50-80 pages long (no shorter or longer) with cover letter to:

Moon Pie Press
16 Walton Street
Westbrook, ME 04092

Please send an email by March 15 if you plan to enter the contest to: moonpiepress@yahoo.com.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be qualifed and interested in entering. Thanks !