Poet Stuart Kestenbaum with Gov. Janet Mills in January 2020. Photo courtesy of Stuart Kestenbaum

AUGUSTA — The Maine Arts Commission requests applications to select a new state poet laureate for a five-year term.

Maine’s Poet Laureate position is an appointment designed to promote poetry throughout the state while honoring a Maine poet whose work can inspire an understanding and appreciation of the craft of poetry.

Current Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle completes his five-year term in 2021. Kestenbaum has used his position to share poetry in many different mediums, including his Poems from Here collaboration with Maine Public, which features a new Maine poem each week. Kestenbaum is the author of five collections of poems, most recently “How to Start Over” (Deerbrook Editions, 2019). He is also the author of the essay collection “The View from Here” (Brynmorgen Press, 2012).

“We are so grateful to Stu for his wonderful work at Poet Laureate,” Arts Commission Executive Director David Greenham said in a news release from the comission. Greenham will facilitate the process for selecting Maine’s next poet laureate. “We see this as a wonderful opportunity to recognize another member of Maine’s thriving community of poets,” he added.

The poet laureate position was established by Maine statute in 1995. The specific duties are minimal to ensure incumbents have maximum freedom to work on their own projects during their tenure. While the position does not include a stipend, all expenses are paid for appearances and programs, which include an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry, participation in the commission’s administration of the national Poetry Out Loud project, and appearances and events to broaden appreciation and understanding of, and participation in, poetry in Maine communities. Each poet laureate brings a different emphasis to the position.

To be considered for this appointment, poets must be full-time Maine residents and have a distinguished body of poetic work. Applicants must submit up to five poems, totaling no more than 10 pages, as well as a one-page statement outlining their vision for their public role as poet laureate and a copy of their resume no later than June 1.

To apply, use this link: forms.gle/NCTAQx9kNWJLNAKr6

The Maine Poet Laureate review committee will be Governor (and poet) Janet Mills; Samaa Abdurraqib, Maine Humanities Council; Susan Minot, author and poet; Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Maine Writers and Publishers; and James Ritter, Maine State Library.

Since the inception of the position, Maine’s Poet Laureates have included Kate Barnes (1996-99), Baron Wormser (2000-05), Betsy Sholl (2006-11), Wesley McNair (2011-16), and Stuart Kestenbaum (2016-2021).

For more information, email Greenham at [email protected]. Visit mainearts.com for more information, like the organization on Facebook, or follow @artsinMaine on Instagram.

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