Holman Day, a Colby College graduate, was a poet, novelist, filmmaker and newspaperman.

He was born in Vassalboro in 1865 and buried there in 1935 in Nichols Cemetery, not far from where he went to school at Oak Grove Academy, now the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

He lived in Auburn, produced more than 25 books according to the maineanencyclopedia.com, wrote for the Dexter Gazette, Fairfield Journal and Lewiston Evening Journal and produced movies in the early 1920s out of the Holman Day film company.

A documentary, “All But Forgotten,” was made about him and his film company in 1978.

And he has been all but forgotten. Until Monday, when Walker Skold visited his grave.

Skold, 55, of Freeport, who founded the Dead Poets Society of America, is a former teacher who has made it his life’s work to document the final resting places of poets.


During his life, Day “was quite well known in Maine,” Skold said. “He was a great storyteller.”

In a telephone interview after his visit to the grave Monday, Skold said, “He’s been on my list for a while, but I didn’t discover his grave until recently. I thought, ‘That’s a great way to start the journey to 700 with someone from Maine, where I live.’ ”

He said Day’s poems were about Maine, lobster men, people working on the Kennebec, county fairs.

What stood out about Holman Day’s grave was the “Colby ’87” notation on the simple grave marker, Skold said.

“One of the things that’s fascinating about the project is that each grave has something unique about it,” Skold said. “Not always, but out of 600 I would say at least 500 have something unique about their design or what they say.”

It’s the first of the 601 graves he’s visited that included the college and graduation year of the poet.


“That could say that maybe that was a big deal back then for a farming family along the Kennebec, to have a child graduate from Colby, or at least he was very proud of that,” Skold said. “Of all the epithets, he chose to put Colby in the center. It also says something about his devotion to or perhaps his attachment to Colby.”

Skold visits graves of poets who have at least one book of poetry published by someone else during or after their lives and has visited 46 states so far. He started out in 2009 on a three-month journey and went to 150 graves in 90 days.

He said that he hasn’t been able to stop.

“I’ve met so many people around the country as I traveled who really encouraged me to keep going,” he said. “It was funny. They told me the project was very historic and helps people connect to their history and culture. So I think because of all the enthusiasm of the people I met I decided to keep going.”

Skold is also a filmmaker, who’s working on “Finding Frost,” a film documenting his journey.

“People can learn a lot from visiting cemeteries,” Skold said. “It’s not some morbid, dark endeavor. It can be very educational.”


Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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