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16th Annual Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival Featuring Keynote Poet Sharon Olds

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Photo: Brett Hall Jones
16th Annual Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival Keynote Poet Sharon Olds

The 16th Annual Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) will feature Sharon Olds as its Keynote Poet on April 6, 2018 on the Augusta Campus.  The daylong festival offers a variety of events in addition to the keynote address, including a workshop, discussions, a community dinner, and culminating with an evening program of a poetry readings by Olds and student poet presentations. A festival is free and open to the public and festival schedule is provided.

The Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival traditionally offers a poetry workshop for high school teachers, UMS students, and the community. This year’s workshop leader is Betsy Sholl, who served as the second poet laureate of Maine.  Sholl is the author of eight books of poetry, and has won numerous awards, including a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. The festival will also include a panel discussion on poetry and truth, readings by winners of student poetry contests, and more.

Our keynote poet is Sharon Olds.  Ms. Olds’ indelible mark on American poetry began in the 1970s, and she continues to impress readers and audiences. Considered to be one 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.”

Special thanks to UMA Provost’s Office, Cultural Events Committee, Diversity Committee, College of Arts and Sciences, Honors’ Program, Humanities Program, and Augusta Student Programming Fund for making the Plunkett Festival possible.

About Terry Plunkett and the Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival – 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.


Lunch and Keynote Address by Betsy Sholl on Poetry and Truth

Fireplace Lounge, Richard Randall Student Center

Community Reading on Poetry and Truth
Featuring Anna Wrobel, Martin Steingesser, Dennis Camire, and Carol Bachofner.

Fireplace Lounge, Richard Randall Student Center

1 – 2pm
Congress of Maine poets: Round Table discussion on the role of poetry today
What can we do to promote truth? What actions can we commit to speak truth to power?

Fireplace Lounge, Richard Randall Student Center

2 – 4pm

Writing Workshop with Betsy Sholl (Reservation Required, ellen.taylor@maine.edu)

Klahr Center Classroom

2 – 4pm
Panel Discussion on Poetry and Truth
Featuring Ekhlas Ahmed, Joseph Jackson, Mihku Paul-Anderson, and Lee Sharkey
Facilitated by Dr. Robert Kellerman

Fireplace Lounge, Richard Randall Student Center

4:30 – 5:45pm
Community Dinner (Reservation Required, ellen.taylor@maine.edu)

Fireplace Lounge, Richard Randall Student Center

6 – 7:15pm


Evening Program

Jewett Hall Auditorium, 7:30 – 9pm

UMA Student Musicians The Gavels Elizabeth Phillips, Olin Moody, Umberto Serio,
and Kenneth Williams
Welcome Dr. Ellen M. Taylor, Professor of English
Opening Remarks UMA President, Dr. Becky Wyke
Student Poets Presentations Introduced by Dr. Elizabeth Powers
Sharon Olds, Reading and Q&A Introduced by Dr. Ellen M. Taylor
Reception in the Danforth Gallery

Book Signing: Books will be available for purchase before and after the program.