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12th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival, October 14 & 15

The annual Belfast Poetry Festival marks its twelfth year with a full plate of ways to celebrate poetry, community, and artistic possibility, Friday and Saturday, October 14th and 15th, 2016 at the American Legion Hall, the Belfast Free Library, and Waterfall Arts in Belfast. An all-arts festival with poetry as the driving force, the event combines variety show, short film festival, art exhibit, and literary showcase. All events except workshops are free and open to the public.

'Kale Seed' by Jacinda Martinez
‘Kale Seed’ by Jacinda Martinez

The 2016 festival will include a tribute to Maine poets who have passed; readings of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest winners; special guest and Maine Postmark Poetry Contest judge Connie Voisine; a master class workshop; an open and energetic panel discussion on contemporary poetics; and a Saturday evening multimedia extravaganza of poetry, visual art, and performing arts collaborations; all featuring 24 poets, 9 visual artists, and 6 performing artists from across Maine and beyond.

Friday, October 14th will feature a variety of readings at Waterfall Arts, 256 High Street in Belfast, beginning at 7 pm with a welcome reception at 6 pm. Leading the Friday program is “With Loaded Arms: Readings In Memoriam of Six Maine Poets,” honoring Maine poets of recent memory who have passed, including Kate Barnes, Henry Braun, Theodore Enslin, Kenneth Frost, Russell Libby, and Michael Macklin, a program produced by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. A featured reading follows by special guest and Maine Postmark Poetry Contest judge Connie Voisine, poet and professor at New Mexico State University and a Maine native, as well as readings of all ten winners of the seventh annual Maine Postmark Poetry Contest. Winners include Sally Jaskold of Belfast, first place, for “Bright Cloth, Foxhole,” Charles Brown of Owl’s Head, Margie Kivel of Rockport, Douglas “Woody” Woodsum of Smithfield, Leslie Moore of Belfast, Chloe Martin of Portland, Andrea Read of Somerville, MA, Robert Farnsworth of Greene, and David Moreau of Wayne.

Saturday morning, October 15th, begins with a master class led by contest judge Connie Voisine, 10 am – 12 pm at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street in Belfast, with a focus on honing one’s work. Admission is by application; to apply, please submit up to 3 poems (3 pages total), a bio, and a short statement of your work tojacob@belfastpoetry.com . If accepted, the festival will contact you for the $25 fee to reserve space in the workshop.

The festival offers an opportunity to make new connections among its statewide audience at a lunchtime shop talk session hosted by poet Bruce Pratt, from 12 pm – 1:30 pm at The Bagel Cafe, 159 High Street, Belfast, an informal opportunity for poets to meet, exchange ideas about craft, and discuss the writing life.

Saturday afternoon sees a return of last year’s popular panel discussion with “Bright Stars: A Panel on Extraordinary Contemporary Poets,” 2 pm – 4 pm at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street in Belfast. Panelists from a variety of backgrounds – publishing, performance, teaching, contemporary criticism – will survey some of the most exciting and ground-breaking poets writing today, and what their work can teach us about the latest directions in American poetry. Panelists include Arielle Greenberg, Valerie Lawson, John Rosenwald, and Shana Youngdahl. An open discussion, audience participation is strongly encouraged.

Once again, the festival culminates in a Saturday evening celebratory showcase of poetry, visual art, and performing arts collaborations, an extravaganza of artistic possibility, with a reception at the American Legion Hall, 143 High Street in Belfast, at 4 pm and showcase presentation from 5 pm – 7:30 pm, featuring music, dance, live readings, projected artwork, and more. The lineup includes poet Shana Youngdahl (Farmington) & poet and artist meg willing (Vienna), poet Sally Jaskold (Belfast) & artist Elaine Ng, poet Welsea Sidon (Seal Cove) & dancer Kea Tesseyman (Camden), poet Michelle Lewis (West Bath) & artist Ariel Hall (Spruce Head), poet Penny Guisinger (Lubec) & artist Heather Lyon (Blue Hill), poet Elizabeth Kirshner (Kittery) & artist Jacinda Martinez (Rockland), poet Frank Giampietro (Farmington) & artist Jaap Helder (Belfast), poet Lee Sharkey (Portland) & artist George Mason (Nobleboro), poet Wren Pearson (Pownal) & musician Jamie Pearson (Pownal), poet and dancer Katherine Ferrier (Portland) & dancer Pamela Vail (Lancaster, PA), and poet John Rosenwald (Farmington) & poet and artist Ann Arbor (Farmington). Work by the visual artists will be on display at the Kramer Gallery of the Belfast Free Library through the month of October.

The Belfast Poetry Festival, one of the few community-based, non-academic poetry festivals in the country, is now in its 12th year of production with support from Off the Coast, The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, the City of Belfast, the Belfast Free LibraryThe Belfast Co-op, the Belfast Creative Coalition, and the office of the Belfast Poet Laureate. For more information , including full lineup details, see www.belfastpoetry.com, email Jacob Fricke atjacob@belfastpoetry.com, or see The Belfast Poetry Festival on Facebook or Twitter.