This year, Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair celebrates annual Poetry Day in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta. The event has traditionally been an invitation-only affair hosted at the Blaine House. This year’s celebration, sponsored by the Maine Arts Commission with assistance from the Maine Humanities Council, is free and open to the public on April 7 at 2:30 p.m.
“By making this Poetry Day more open and inclusive,” McNair says, “I want to stress the main theme of my laureateship: that poetry belongs to the people.”
McNair’s final Poetry Day will be a crowd-pleaser and feature a shared reading of Maine poems by a wide range of Mainers, from legislators and prominent Maine citizens, to television personalities. The participants will recite one poem they have selected for the event and explain what the poem means to them in their personal experience. A Swan’s Island lobsterman will read the work of nationally acclaimed Down East poet Phillip Booth, and a central Maine native revered for reciting poems by heart in Grange Halls will present an anonymous poem about an encounter with a bear.
“This will be poetry as you’ve never known it,” McNair says. “It will make you proud of what poetry can be, and proud of the state we live in, too.”
During his nearly five-year term as poet laureate, McNair has launched five statewide initiatives in partnership with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “All of them have the same motive,” he says, “which is to make poetry part of the cultural life we all share.”
McNair’s guests include Representative Victoria Kornfield; Senator Tom Saviello; novelist Cathie Pelletier; novelist Richard Russo; Kathryn Foster, President, UMF; Julie Richard, Executive Director, MAC; Bill Green, TV journalist and personality; Hayden Anderson, Executive Director, MHC; Sonny Sprague, Swans Island lobsterman; Doris Dean, poetry reciter in Maine Grange Halls; and Rose Horowitz, high school winner of Poetry Out Loud 2015.
For more information, contact Julie Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission, at Julie.Richard@maine.gov.