One of the only community-based, non-academic poetry festivals in the country, the event features established, professionally recognized poets and artists from throughout Maine along with emerging poets to create a lively mix.

The Belfast Poetry Festival began in 2004 under the auspices of Festivo, a small steering committee that later disbanded. It has been run by the current Belfast Poet Laureate (appointed by the Belfast City Council) and a Waldo County steering committee of volunteers each October since then, and is one of the few community–based, non-academic literary festivals in the country. All events are free to the public.

Activities have included poetry readings, workshops, art exhibits, evening performances, poetry contests, and book displays by Maine bookstores, publishers, and authors. A highlight of the festival is a curated show of collaborative projects between poets and visual and/or performing artists in Belfast galleries and other venues. These artist/poet teams are chosen by the Poet Laureate and Steering Committee and consists of professionally recognized Maine artists and poets. The teams’ projects are displayed for the month of October in local galleries and coordinated with Belfast’s First Friday Art Walks. Projects have included sculpture, musical performance, dance, painting, printmaking and broadsides, book arts, and installations.