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 funding, support, and promotion for the Poet’s Laureate’s many initiatives, including Take Heart and the Maine Poetry Express.

The Office of the Maine Poet Laureate and the poet laureate’s initiatives are currently supported by generous contributions from the Betterment Fund, Maine Arts Commission, and Maine Humanities Council.

If you are interested in providing financial support to the Maine Poet Laureate, please contact Joshua Bodwell.

Wesley McNair is the author of nine volumes of poetry and two books of nonfiction, and he has edited five anthologies of Maine writing, including three that feature Maine poetry. Few authors are as well versed in the history of Maine poetry or the work of Maine’s contemporary poets as Wesley McNair.

The recipient of numerous awards in poetry, McNair has held fellowships from the Fulbright Program, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Rockefeller Foundation. He recently read his poems at the Library of Congress and was selected for a United States Artists Fellowship as one of “America’s finest living artists.” McNair’s latest book is the newly released volume Lovers of the Lost: New & Selected Poems. For more information, visit Wesley McNair’s website.


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.


Betsy Sholl (2006–2011)
Baron Wormser (2000–2005)
Kate Barnes (1996–1999)

  Read more about Maine’s former poet laureates