Belfast Poetry Festival expands and attracts

Three days, four locations

Oct 08, 2018
Artist Elizabeth Sinclair, whose “Stepping” pilgrimage sketch is pictured, will present a collaboration with Maine poet Gary Lawless at the Belfast Poetry Festival.

Belfast — The 14th annual Belfast Poetry Festival is expanding its programming this year with three days of events — Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 11 through 13. Artists, dancers, singers, big-stage puppetry, and more poetry than ever will be on tap; most events are free.

“3 Nations Anthology” readings

The 2018 fest begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with a reading by contributors the “3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian & New England Writers” at Waterfall Arts, 256 High St. The anthology explores the shared borders and heritage of the northeastern United States, Atlantic Canada and Sovereign Tribal Nations residing within their borders. The poems, essays and short stories in this collection speak of the things that divide, the bridges between and the intense love of this rugged region the people hold in common.

Local and regional authors from the anthology who will read include Michael R. Brown, Leonore Hildebrandt, Sarah Murphy, Lee Sharkey, Ellie O'Leary, Karin Spitfire and Kathleen Ellis.

A Conversation in Poetry

On Friday, Belfast Poet Laureate Thomas R. Moore and poet, teacher and editor John Rosenwald will partake in A Conversation in Poetry at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books, 109 Church St.

In the early 1970s, both men helped create Massachusetts’ Worcester County Poetry Association, one of the leading advocates for poetry in New England. Both have had substantial international experience, Moore in New Zealand, Iran, Turkey and Mali; and Rosenwald in Germany, Canada, England and China. They also both work with wood, building or renovating houses for themselves and their families to live in. In A Conversation in Poetry, they will read in alternation poems of their own about related topics — an experiment by two gifted and experienced word artists, 40 years after their first meeting, that should be a treat to see and hear.

Reservations are recommended; email or call 338-9009.

Workshops, open mic, reception

The Crosby Center, 96 Church St., will be festival headquarters on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. with a morning reception in the Lounge featuring coffee and tea from Bella Books; and lively tunes performed by the Belfast Fiddlers. Any poet who wants to sell copies of his or her books may do so in a free-form book sale format (poets will be responsible for managing their own sales).

Three simultaneous poetry workshops will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Poetry and the Ecstatic Tradition with Rosenwald; Poetry and Poetics with Joel Lipman; and Poetry in Panels, Turning Your Daily Life into Poetic Comics with Laura Grover. Early registration on the website is encouraged, but there will be day-of signups if space is available. Fee for workshops is $25, $5 for high school or college students.

From 1:30 to 3 p.m., there will be a pop-up Open Poetry Reading in the Crosby’s small performance space. Any poet can sign up and read one poem, and the listening public is invited to bear witness to what should be a diverse, engaging event.

Poetry, Performance, Visual Arts Collaborations

In the evening, the action moves to the Troy Howard Middle School, 173 Lincolnville Ave./Route 52. A welcoming reception begins at 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 by the always intriguing, months-in-the-making collaborations of poets with visual artists and performers.

Trio Tremolino will open with fado — a fiery, soulful Portuguese music and poetry form. Collaborative teams to follow include Adrian Blevins and Annie Kloppenberg; The Poet’s Table; Katherine Hagopian Berry and Inventing Trees Puppetry Troupe; Becca Shaw Glaser and Suzanne Stone; Gary Lawless and Elizabeth Sinclair; and Doug Rawlings, Terry Grasse and Robert Shetterly.

These presentations run the gamut of expression. For example, Glaser of Rockland and Stone of Belfast promise a topical collaborative multimedia show including costumes, live music, a video combining protest imagery, the ocean, bees and spoken word/poetry performance.

“We will explore themes relating to a core of grief — environmental mourning, the Trump presidency and governmental horrors in general, the patriarchy, and our role in all of it,” said Glaser.

Also part of the fest-capping evening are the finalists of the 2018 Maine Postcard Poetry Contest. The top five finalists will read their entries: first-place winner Lee Sharkey of Portland, "Man in the Mud"; second-place winner Jay Franzel of Wayne, "Picnic Area, Side of the Road"; third-place winner David Sloan of Brunswick, "Unspoken"; and honorable mention finalists James McKenna of Hallowell, "The Business Cards Displayed in the All Night Café," and Laurence Anne Coe of Rockland, "Scarf."

For more information about the festival, visit; and to register for workshops, click the workshop link.

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