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Maine Arts Commission accepting applications for state poet laureate

Stuart Kestenbaum finishes five-year term
Apr 30, 2021
Courtesy of: Stuart Kestenbaum Poet Stuart Kestenbaum with Governor Janet Mills in January 2020.

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 for the people of our state.

Current Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum completes his five-year term in 2021. Kestenbaum, a resident of Deer Isle, 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 as poet laureate,” said Arts Commission Executive Director David Greenham. 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."

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 Maine Arts Commission’s administration of the national Poetry Out Loud project; as well as 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, 2021.

To apply, use this link:

The Maine Poet Laureate review committee will be: Janet Mills, governor (and poet); 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 (1996-1999), Baron Wormser (2000-2005), Betsy Sholl (2006-2011), Wesley McNair (2011 – 2016) and Stuart Kestenbaum (2016 – 2021).

Learn more about the history of Maine’s Poet Laureate, sign up for monthly e-blasts, like us on Facebook, follow us @artsinMaine on Instagram, and visit for Maine’s new Poet Laureate initiatives as they develop.

If you have questions, please contact David Greenham, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, at

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