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Tag Archives: Wes McNair

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.

Books from Maine poets, everywhere you look

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lavendar field

Now that National Poetry Month with its many events has wound down, we poets all have a bit more time to get back to reading and writing. I opened the Sunday Telegram this morning and, as always, checked the Books section and the best seller list, this week from Nonesuch Books, indie bookstore in South Portland. How gratifying to see that Maine poet Richard Blanco (who read his poem at President Obama’s second inauguration) has THREE poetry books on the paperback list this week. That is astounding! Mr. Blanco is riding a wave of fame that few American poets, especially outside academia, ever enjoy, and I hope it continues for a long time. I’m also pleased to see that Maine poet laureate Wes McNair’s anthology TAKE HEART, from his series of Maine poems in newspapers statewide, is #8 on the top 10 hardcover books list. Wes and Down East did a nice job on this book. Wes plans a second anthology eventually, too.

So what’s the relevance of the photo ? I love purple, so this lavender field is one version of paradise for me – but only if there is a library or bookstore around the corner, with an attached bakery/cafe, naturally.