Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Maine's First Lady welcomed poets and lovers of the written word into the Blaine House today for a celebration of Maine poetry. The celebration, which formally welcomed Welsey McNair as Maine's Poet Laureate and featured poetry recitation from Maine's Poetry Out Loud Champion, was attended by over 70 people. The First Lady began proceedings by welcoming everyone to the Blaine House and going on to introduce Wesley McNair. Wesley thanked the First Lady and went on to outline his plans for the coming years as Poet Laureate. He introduced two new initiatives: "The Maine Poetry Express,” a “train” that begins in our northernmost town of Fort Kent, and makes it way south by way of “stops” that feature group readings given by poets in all the regions of Maine, including what are called “underserved areas,” from north to south and from east to west. The public will be able to purchase broadsides of work by the participating poets at each stop, and follow the train’s journey online at the Maine Writers and Publisher’s Alliance website, or on the new Maine Poet Laureate Facebook page.
The second initiative will begin immediately and continue throughout Wesley's tenure. He will sponsor a new column for newspapers across Maine featuring one poem a week by a Maine poet from the present, or from our illustrious past. The name of the column will be Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry, or more simply, Take Heart.
Wesley has already secured commitments to this column from all the major daily newspapers in the state, and more than a dozen others, from the coast to the far north, and every location in between.
The event concluded with two recitations from Maine's Poetry Out Loud Champion, Lulu Hawkes. Lulu captivated the audience with her powerful recitations and received an ovation from attendees.