Maine’s New Poet Laureate is a small town librarian who has written 2 collections of poems


The director of the Kingfield City Library will be Maine’s next poet laureate, the Maine Arts Commission said on Wednesday.

Julia Bouwsma of New Portland, director of the Webster Library in Kingfield, will be the sixth poet to hold the honorary position, according to a press release from David Greenham, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission.

Julia bouwsma Photo courtesy of the Maine Arts Commission

“After reviewing 20 highly accomplished applicants, we are delighted that Julia has become the poet to carry on Maine’s tradition of celebrating poetry by appointing a State Poet Laureate,” said Greenham.

A panel of five judges, including Governor Janet Mills, North Haven author and poet Susan Minot, Deputy Director of the Maine Humanities Council Samaa Abdurraquid, Executive Director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Gibson Fay-LeBlance and Director Maine State Library executive James Ritter, made the selection.

“I deeply appreciate Julia Bouwsma’s ability to capture the courage and spirit of our state, including life in rural Maine and the resilience of the people of Maine,” said Mills, whose hometown is. Farmington. “With unwavering honesty, his poems explore the history, grief and hope of people seeking to build a better life here in Maine, with dirt under their fingernails and sand in their souls. “

Bouwsma lives off-grid in New Portland, Somerset County, where she writes poetry, is a farmer, and a small town librarian. She is the author of two collections of poetry: “Midden” (Fordham University Press 2018) and “Work by Bloodlight” (Cider Press Review, 2017). She is also the recipient of the 2018 and 2019 Maine Literary Award for a book of poetry.

Bouwsma, former editor-in-chief of Alice James Books, is also a teacher at the University of Maine at Farmington and a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

The State of Maine Poet Laureate was established in 1995 by the legislature, and each Poet Laureate serves for five years. The law states that the Poet Laureate resides in Maine and has published “Distinguished Poetry.” Applicants are selected from a list of applicants recommended by the Maine Arts Commission.

Stuart Kestenbaum is the state’s newest Poet Laureate, having served from 2016 to 2020.

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