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Maine Poet Laureate

Stuart Kestenbaum

Poet Laureate - Wes McNair

Poet Laureate - Stuart Kestenbaum

Stuart Kestenbaum is the author of four collections of poems, Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press), House of Thanksgiving (Deerbrook Editions), and Prayers and Run-on Sentences and Only Now (both Deerbrook Editions). He has been a visiting writer and guest lecturer at programs around the U.S., and written and spoken widely on craft making and creativity. His poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines including Tikkun, the Sun, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Northeast Corridor, and others and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

Kestenbaum was the director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine for 27 years, where he established innovative programs combining craft and writing and craft and new technologies. He is an honorary fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the Distinguished Educator’s Award from the James Renwick Alliance. He retired from Haystack in 2015 and is currently the chair of the American Craft Council as well as an honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.

Ted Kooser, from 2004-06 the nation’s thirteenth poet laureate, has said in regard to Kestenbaum’s Prayers and Run-on Sentences, “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.”

“When I was at Haystack I would frequently read poems—often by Maine poets—to artists who came from all around the US and other countries,” Kestenbaum said in a recent interview. “I wanted to give them a sense of place—of Maine—of its ingenuity and tenacity and of poetry’s power to slow the world down momentarily and let us see what’s most important. I’m so honored and grateful to have been selected as the state’s poet laureate.  I hope to make connections between writers and other creative disciplines and to celebrate poetry’s power to transform us—poet and reader alike-- in unexpected ways.”

During the summer of 2015, Kestenbaum gave a reading at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Watch his reading here.

Maine’s Poet Laureate position is an appointment designed to promote poetry throughout the state while honoring an eminent Maine poet for his or her achievements.  The position was established by Maine statute in 1995. To be considered for this appointment, poets must be full-time Maine residents and have a distinguished body of poetic work.

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