20th Annual Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival

Featuring Keynote Poet Reginald Dwayne Betts

April 29, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Fireside Lounge in Randall Student Center, UMA Augusta Campus

This year’s festival theme is Race & Social Justice and UMA will celebrate poetry and host poetry-related events throughout April.

The 20th Annual Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) will feature Reginald Dwayne Betts, “2021 MacArthur Fellow, award winning author, poet, lawyer, and outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform” as its keynote poet for an in person event* at the Fireside Lounge on April 29, 2022 at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm). The participation of Betts, as well as other festival programming, will connect the Plunkett Poetry Festival to UMA’s academic theme: Race and Social Justice. This event is free and open to the public, however, registration is required.

This year’s festival will offer a variety of events throughout April, including a poetry workshop on April 8, a panel discussion on April 22, and culminates with an in-person keynote address by Betts on April 29.

Betts’ most recent work is largely concerned with the effects of incarceration, including homelessness, drug abuse, domestic violence, as well as fatherhood and the possibilities of grace and love. As a man who experienced the criminal justice system as a teenager and transformed his life upon his release, Betts does more than write exemplary verse, he has lived a life that speaks to redemption, attending law school and working in public defense and advocacy.

Poetry Workshop – April 8, 2022

A poetry workshop with Maine Poet Laureate Julia Bouwsma will be held on Friday, April 8th. This event will be limited to 15 participants via Zoom from 4:00 – 5:30 pm. Those interested in participating in the workshop are invited to contact Ellen Taylor at ellen.taylor@maine.edu for details.

Julia Bouwsma is the sixth Poet Laureate of Maine and an off-the-grid homesteader, poet, librarian, editor, and teacher. Bouwsma is the author of two poetry collections, Midden (Fordham University Press, 2018) and Work by Bloodlight (Cider Press Review, 2017). Honors she has received include the 2019 and 2018 Maine Literary Awards for Poetry Book, the 2016-17 Poets Out Loud Prize, and the 2015 Cider Press Review Book Award. She serves as Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine and teaches in the Creative Writing department at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Panel Discussion – April 22, 2022

A Panel Discussion on Literature and Social Justice will be held on Friday, April 22, from 4:00 – 5:30 pm. Panelists will include Julie BouwsmaSamaa Abdurraqib, Poet and Maine Humanities Council Educator; Jaed Coffin, memoirist and essayist; and Joseph Jackson, poet and director of Maine Prisoners Advocacy Coalition. This event will be held via Zoom.  Those interested in attending should register to receive the webinar link.

*In accordance with University of Maine System COVID-19 protocols in place at this time, face coverings are required for anyone attending events in UMS facilities.

Updated 4/13/22