With the inauguration of Wesley McNair as Maine State Poet Laureate on March 11, 2011, the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance created the state’s first-ever Office of the Maine Poet Laureate to provide support, promotion, and funding for the poet laureate’s many initiatives. Since that time, the Office of the Maine Poet Laureate and the poet laureate’s initiatives have been supported by generous contributions from the Betterment Fund, Maine Arts Commission, Maine Humanities Council, and Quimby Family Foundation.
If you are interested in donating to the ongoing initiatives of the Maine Poet Laureate, please contact Joshua Bodwell.
STUART KESTENBAUM, MAINE POET LAUREATE
Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle is the fifth Maine Poet Laureate. He is the author of four poetry collections, including most recently Only Now, Prayers and Run-on Sentences, House of Thanksgiving—all published by Cumberland-based Deerbrook Editions—and his 1990 debut Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press, Portland).
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has written: “Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read, heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life. No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but life, pure life, set down with craft and love.”
Kestenbaum was the much-lauded director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle for 27 years. His 2012 essay collection The View From Here—published by Brunswick-based Brynmorgen Press—explores histime at Haystack, where he established innovative programs combining craft and writing and craft and new technologies. His poems and writing have appeared in numerous small-press publications and magazines, including Tikkun, The Sun, Beloit Poetry Journal, Northeast Corridor, and others, and on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.
Kestenbaum follows Wesley McNair, Betsy Sholl, Baron Wormser, and Kate Barnes in the role of Maine Poet Laureate. He will serve a five-year term.
PHOTO Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald
HISTORY OF THE MAINE POET LAUREATE
The Maine State Poet Laureate is an honorary position established on June 2, 1995 (Maine Public Law 1995, Chapter 264) and codified in Title 27, Chapter 15, Subchapter 2 of the Maine Revised Statutes. The law requires that the Poet Laureate reside in Maine and have published “distinguished poetry.” The nominee is selected by the governor from a list of candidates recommended by the Maine Arts Commission. The Maine State Poet Laureate is appointed for a five-year term and may be reappointed for a second term. Poet Laureates may serve for no more than two consecutive terms, but they may be reappointed after a break in service.
PREVIOUS MAINE POET LAUREATES
Wesley McNair (2011–2016) → Read more about McNair’s tenure as poet laureate
Betsy Sholl (2006–2011)
Baron Wormser (2000–2005)
Kate Barnes (1996–1999)