Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

Deering High School

On Tuesday morning, 19-year-old Allan Monga of Westbrook stepped onstage in the first round of the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C. He took a breath, exhaled, and recited W.E.B. Dubois’ 1907 poem, “The Song of the Smoke.”

If it wasn’t for a federal judge’s ruling, that performance likely wouldn’t have happened, because while Monga won Maine’s Poetry Out Loud competition last month, he wasn’t considered eligible for the national finals because of his immigration status.

Ed Morin / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine nonprofit is working to restore a historic African-American church building ahead of its 200th anniversary.
The Portland Press Herald reports the Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland is the third-oldest church building in the U.S. built by a black congregation. The building dates back to 1828 and it saw visitors such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.

Craig Becker / Courtesy Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art is upending its admissions policy - it's going to make it free to everyone 21 years of age and under. The museum says it's part of a campaign to make the museum more welcoming and inclusive. Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talked with two people integral to making that happen: Susie Konkel, who donated the money to cover the funds needed to make the change, and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jones, who is with the museum.

Grant Helps Scholars Mine Church Records For Hidden History

Apr 9, 2018

BOSTON - A project to digitize the records of Congregational churches across New England has received a major boost with a more than $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The churches date to the time of the Pilgrims and were the focal point of communities across Colonial New England. Their records from 1630 to 1800 contain details not just about religious life, but of everyday matters.
They're being put online by the Boston-based Congregational Library and Archives Hidden Histories project.

MONHEGAN ISLAND, Maine - An art museum in Maine has received a $1 million grant from the Wyeth Foundation and will have three years to match the grant.
Jaime and Phyllis Wyeth made the donation to Monhegan Museum of Art & History's $4 million fundraising campaign. The Portland Press Herald reports that the museum on Monhegan Island off midcoast Maine is one of the smallest museums in the state.
The museum, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is only open for a few months a year and sits atop a steep hill.

Courtesy Maine Arts Commission

Maine's Poetry Out Loud champion this year comes from Zambia, and he has only lived in Maine for a few months. 

Allan Monga, a junior at Deering High School, won the competition Tuesday night with the poem "In the Desert" by Stephen Crane. 

The challenge includes approximately 9,500 students from across the state. Monga says winning it one of his top achievements since arriving in Maine.

Amy Bass has written about Lewiston's experience absorbing thousands of Somali immigrants. Her lens is soccer. Her book is entitled “One Goal.” Bass talks with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about what inspired her to write the book about the Lewiston High School soccer team.

Courtesy John Biewen

At the University of Southern Maine Saturday, audio journalist John Biewen, the host of the program Scene on Radio, and scholar Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika will present one part of an audio series about "whiteness" and race, with a focus on racism in the North.

The talk comes just weeks after a Maine town manager was fired for posting racist comments online.

Biewen talked recently with Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz, who asked him about an episode where Ojibwe tribe members in Wisconsin are harassed over traditional fishing rights.

PORTLAND, Maine - Texting "I love lobsters'' just got easier.

Maine Independent Sen. Angus King says a long-overdue lobster emoji is coming to smartphones, and it is cause for celebration. King tweeted thanks to The Unicode Consortium for "recognizing the impact of this critical crustacean, in Maine and across the country.''

Unicode said Wednesday the lobster emoji was among more than 150 picked to be added in the next round of emojis. Others include a bagel, a pirate flag and a mango. Unicode is a nonprofit organization that promotes consistency in computer coding.

ORONO, Maine - Over 10 years after the last Mass was held at a former Catholic church in Maine, the Orono building will reopen this week as a new performance space.
The former St. Mary's Catholic Church, now the Old St. Mary's Reception Hall, will host its first public event Friday. The Bangor Daily News reports the church was purchased in 2010 by a couple who recently moved to Maine.
Despite the enormous of amount of work that went into restoring it, Fariba Dayhim and Shahram Pourmomtaz say they believed it was important.

PORTLAND, Maine  — Maine native Amy Allen has her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter.

'Antiques Roadshow' Has Never Traveled To Maine. What Gives?

Jan 3, 2018
Susan E. Bouchard / Associated Press File

Like any red-blooded Mainer, there are some things I’m predisposed to love: Shortcuts around peak-summer traffic. Red hot dogs and Humpty Dumpty All-Dressed potato chips. And, especially in my case, cool old stuff — the kinds of things you find in antique shops, barns and garages that always come with a story.

Mainers love old stuff, be it valuable or little more than junk. Maybe it’s because of Yankee thriftiness. Maybe it’s because we love a good story. Probably a bit of both.

Nora Flaherty / Maine Public

As you do your gift shopping this year, you may find yourself looking at board games — specifically hobby games, which are intended for an older, more strategically minded audience than, say, “Candyland.”

Some might have predicted that the rise of video games would hurt board games, but hobby games, like “Settlers of Catan” and “Pandemic,” are growing — and one of the biggest new games comes from right here in Maine.

Back in 2011, Tom Deschenes made a goal: to invent a board game. He’s a college administrator who lives in Portland, and he’s an avid board gamer.

You Can License A Stephen King Short Story For $1 - As Long As You Follow His Rules

Dec 21, 2017
Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

When Bangor native Jeff Schiro was a film student at New York University in the early 1980s, he asked his favorite writer, fellow Bangorian Stephen King, if he could make a film of his short story “The Boogeyman,” from his 1978 collection “Night Shift.”

Schiro had no idea that his student project would be the first of a lesser-known phenomenon that, over the past 35 years, has spawned more than 300 short films adapted from King short stories.

Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — Former Vice President Joe Biden will appear in Maine’s largest city during his book tour.

Merrill Auditorium in Portland says the Delaware Democrat will appear on Jan. 31. He is in the midst of a tour called the "American Promise Tour" and is expected to talk about his political career.

Pre-sale for the tickets starts on Wednesday and ends Thursday at midnight. Tickets include a copy of Biden’s memoir, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose." Ticket prices range from $78 to $335.