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Power of Words Conference in Saco, August 18-20

August 18 - August 20

An international conference on community-building, social change, engaged spirituality, and healing and health through poetry, writing, storytelling, singing, and performance is having its second year in Maine.

The 14th annual Power of Words conference will be held August 18th – 20th at Ferry Beach, and will feature storyteller, poet, and author of many books relating to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Joseph Bruchac; early literacy author and professor, Susan Bennet Armstead; poet, activist, and curator Mahogany L. Browne; Boston-based playback theatre troupe, True Story Theatre; and Americana singer/songwriter, Kelley Hunt. “This event promises to embody activism, spontaneity, humor, comfort, and joy. I don’t know what thrills me more–this fabulous conference we’re putting together or the amazing place here in Maine where we are holding it,” said Deb Hensley, Belfast resident, Creative Coalition member, and Power of Words conference co-chair. ../Images/Keynoters/joseph_bruchac.jpeg

“The conference is a gathering place for all who work with words, aloud and on the page–for greater civil discourse, community building, and individual health,” said Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, former Kansas Poet Laureate, author, and teacher. “It brings together writers, storytellers, educators, actors, spoken word artists, health professionals, community leaders, musicians, artists, and many others who are drawn to the power of the arts as a force for positive change in our lives and communities.”

One of America’s best-loved poets and 2015 conference keynoter Jimmy Santiago Baca says, “How can one diminish the power of words and what they have done to me? They’ve changed my life, taught me to love, described what deep learning is, opened my eyes, shaped my speech, all bound together and much more to give me an amazing life, and this conference swells with that importance. It’s the epiphany and epicenter of using language to learn to love ourselves and others.”

       The conference features five tracks of workshops: Narrative Medicine (how we can use our words for health and healing), Social Change (effecting positive change in our communities), Engaged Spirituality (finding powerful ways to use language through religion or spiritual experience), Ecological Literacy (using human language to connect with the living earth), Right Livelihood (making a living based on how to contribute best to our communities), and this year’s special track, Early Literacy. Past conferences have featured keynote speakers including Jimmy Santiago Baca, Grace Paley, Julia Alvarez, David Abram, and Gregory Orr.

       Founded at Goddard College in Vermont in 2003 by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, the conference is now a project of the Transformative Language Arts Network, a not-for-profit organization. Mirriam-Goldberg explains that she started the conference in conjunction with the MA program she coordinates at the college of Transformative Language Arts (TLA), an emerging academic field, profession, and calling. “TLA is the use of any of the language arts to effect change in the world. Transformative Language Artists facilitate writing workshops for elders, storytelling events for at-risk children, collaborative theater projects to raise awareness about ecological issues, and journaling workshops to help people determine the best way to creatively make a living. The conference amplifies these possibilities, and helps those of us drawn to this work find inspiration and ideas.”

       Scholarships are available, including the Roxanne-Florence Scholarship for people of color. For more information about the conference or Transformative Language Arts, please visit or contact the

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August 18
August 20
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Transformative Language Arts


Ferry Beach
Saco, ME 04072 United States + Google Map