Terry Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival | Friday, April 17, 2020

Welcome to the 18th annual Terry Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival

The Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival will continue its tradition of offering a poetry workshop for high school teachers, UMS students, and the community.

Dear Friends,

Please save the date: Friday, April 17th, 2020 for our 18th Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival. We will be tying in Maine’s Bicentennial to celebrate Maine’s literary tradition.

Baron Wormser, Maine’s second Poet Laureate will return to Maine to share the stage with Betsy Sholl, Maine third poet laureate, and Dawn Potter, a student of Baron’s and a literary connoisseur in her own right.

All this and more are in the works for another wonderful festival. Free to all and all are welcome.

About Terry Plunkett

The Terry Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival, held in April each year, was established in 2002 to honor the memory and accomplishments of Terry Plunkett, an English professor at the University of Maine at Augusta for nearly thirty years. An outstanding teacher and mentor to many students, Terry was also co-editor of Kennebec: A Portfolio of Maine Writing, an annual magazine published by the university from 1977-1992 and distributed free throughout the state. Many Maine writers first saw their work in print in Kennebec, thanks to Terry’s encouragement and guidance.

A poet and fiction writer as well as a teacher and editor, Terry helped organize and direct the Maine Poets Festival, a hugely popular celebration of poets and poetry, which ran from 1976-1983 at UMA, the College of the Atlantic, and the Maine College of Art.

To honor his memory…

In Terry’s spirit, the annual Plunkett Poetry Festival encompasses diverse Maine voices: young and old, emerging writers and those who are well published, traditional and experimental forms. To encourage new writers, the Festival also includes poetry contests for high school and university students as well as an open microphone.

A featured poet highlights the festival program; this year the poet is Sharon Olds. Past years have included Richard Blanco, Naomi Shihab Nye, the U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall and the Maine poet laureates Betsy Sholl and Wes McNair.

Because Terry worked to make poetry accessible to all, the Plunkett Poetry Festival is always free and open to the public.

Related to the Festival is the UMA Terry Plunkett Maine Writers Collection in the Katz Library. Established in October 1999, the Plunkett Collection consists of books and videos by and about Maine authors. The primary focus of the Plunkett Collection is contemporary Maine fiction and poetry.

Discover past Keynote Poets

Martin Espada
Keynote Poet, Martín Espada. Image courtesy of David González.

Our keynote poet was Martin Espada.

Martin Espada has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza (2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990).

His many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and has been issued in a new edition by Northwestern University Press. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston’s Latino community, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Sharon Olds
Photo: Brett Hall Jones

Our keynote poet was Sharon Olds.

Ms. Olds’ indelible mark on American poetry began in the 1970s, and she continues to impress readers and audiences. Considered to be on of America’s greatest living poets, Olds has spent decades writing her truth: about love and sex, childbirth and death, social consciousness and the limits of self-knowledge. Winner of the 2016 Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award, she was praised as an “American Mater, and a national treasure.”

Sharon Olds at UMA


Photos

  • Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2018
    Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2018

On April 21st, 2017 poet Naomi Shihab Nye was our keynote poet for our 15th annual Terry Plunket Maine Poetry Festival. An internationally renowned writer, Naomi has over thirty publications that blend her life experiences and heritage as a Palestinian American, in poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. Poet Ibtisam Barakat has written, “Naomi’s incandescent humanity and voice can change the world, or someone’s world.”

Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, inform her work and her life, and she uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.

Ms. Nye read from her work, answered audience questions, and signed hundreds of books.

Naomi Shihab Nye at UMA Part 1

Naomi Shihab Nye at UMA Part 2 »

Naomi Shihab Nye at UMA Part 3 »

Naomi Shihab Nye at UMA Part 4 »


Photos

  • Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2017
    Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2017

The Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival hosted Richard Blanco, on Saturday, April 9, 2016, at UMA. Blanco rose to fame after his inaugural poem for President Obama, “One Today,” went viral. He has since published two volumes of poetry and a memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos. As a Cuban-American, Blanco has become a spokesperson for immigration, as well as LGBT rights. Blanco read from his poetry and shared family photos to accompany his verse.

Richard Blanco at UMA Part 1

Richard Blanco at UMA Part 2 »

Richard Blanco at UMA Part 3 »


Photos

  • Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2016
    Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival 2016