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Tag Archives: Marcia Brown

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.

Poetry books on bestseller lists


garden and library

Recently I saw that Maine poet Richard Blanco’s new book FOR ALL OF US, ONE TODAY was on the New York Times bestseller list. This makes me happy. (And what’s not to love about a poet who has blurbs on his website from Anderson Cooper, Gloria Estefan and Tim Gunn?) It’s been a year since he read his stunning poem at the presidential inauguration, and got quite a few people interested in accessible poetry that speaks to Americans of all stripes. Blanco’s celebrity-poet status is going strong.

I also noted in last week’s Maine Sunday Telegram that the #5 best selling nonfiction paperback at Longfellow Books in Portland is PORT CITY POEMS, the recent anthology edited by Portland Poet Laureate Marcia Brown. (This was erroneously identified as being published by Down East; it’s a publication of Maine Poetry Central.) I love it that people around Portland are finding and buying this anthology, which is locally produced and distributed. The fact that these books are on national and local bestseller lists speaks to the refusal of poetry, which has been aptly referred to as the “forgotten stepchild of literature”, to roll over and play dead.