Poems from Here with Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum

Fridays on Maine Public Radio at 1:55 pm & 7:55 pm | Maine Public Classical 11:55 am & 4:55 pm

Each Friday, Stuart selects a poem by a Maine or regional poet and shares with us how language has the power to move and surprise us. Poems from Here creates a momentary community of speaker and listeners, where vibrant language slows time down and helps us to pay attention to our world.

Poems from Here is presented in collaboration with the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and the Maine Arts Commission. Special thanks to Robert M. Chute and family along with Phil Steele and Francesca Galluccio-Steele for making Poems from Here possible. Additional support is provided by The New Writing Series at the University of Maine.

Letter Nostalgia

Aug 23, 2019

Today’s poem is “Letter Nostalgia” by Ellen M. Taylor. Ellen is the author of a chapbook, Humming to Snails, and two collections of poetry, Floating, and Compass Rose.  She teaches at the University of Maine at Augusta, where she chairs the annual Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival, and lives in Appleton, ME. 

Hymn to the Comb-Over

Aug 16, 2019

Today’s poem is “Hymn to the Comb-Over” by Wesley McNair. Wes was Maine’s fourth poet laureate and is the author of ten books of poems, most recently The Unfastening. He’s currently professor emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine Farmington, where he directed the creative writing program for many years.

Today’s poem is “A rabbi, a minister, and a priest walk into a bar—” by Betsy Sholl, who was Maine’s third poet laureate. She has published nine books of poetry, most recently House of Sparrows, New & Selected Poems (University of Wisconsin Press 2019). She lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches in the MFA Program of Vermont College.


Aug 2, 2019

Today’s poem is “Watermelon” by Susan Deborah (Sam) King. She is the author of five full length collections of poetry and one chap book, including Bog Orchids, about her summer home on Great Cranberry Island, and One-Breasted Woman, about her experience with breast cancer.


Jul 26, 2019

Today’s poem is “Bittersweet” by Jim Glenn Thatcher. He’s a high school drop-out with a BA in History, extensive graduate work in Modern Intellectual History, and an MFA in Creative Writing. He grew up in the only house on a dirt road in the Adirondacks, spending most of his time in what he later came to call “books, woods, and the mind.”  Jim is the author of the chapbook The Ur-Word and the full-length collection Lesser Eternities. He currently teaches English at Southern Maine Community College Midcoast.

Swimming With My Father

Jul 19, 2019

Today’s poem is “Swimming with My Father” by Carolyn Locke. Carolyn Locke is a graduate of Bates College and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. A Maine resident and high school teacher for many years, she is the author of the haibun Not One Thing: Following Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Interior and three books of poetry— Always This Falling, The Place We Become, and most recently The Riddle of Yes (June 2019).

Pie #317

Jul 12, 2019

Today’s poem is “Pie #317" by Rebecca Irene. She recently received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work is published in Burningword Literary Journal, Amaryllis, Balancing Act 2 and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, where she supports her word-addiction by waitressing.

Pool Girl, West Bathhouse, Jones Beach State Park, 1961

Jul 5, 2019

Today’s poem is “Pool Girl, West Bathouse, Jones Beach State Park, 1961” by Kathleen Sullivan. She is a psychotherapist; for over fifty years, she has helped people rewrite the stories of their lives. She began writing in her 60s because she feared her work had silenced her own voice. She then got an MFA at the Stonecoast Writers Program at the University of Southern Maine to make up for lost time. 

Walden Pond

Jun 28, 2019

Today’s poem is “Walden Pond” by Michael Alpert. Michael was born in Bangor, where he still lives. He has worked as a writer, editor, visual artist, and book designer for most of his adult life. Currently, Michael serves as Director of the University of Maine Press., as President of the Greater Bangor Area Branch of the NAACP, and as Chair of the Board of Ethics for the City of Bangor.

What is lost

Jun 21, 2019

Today’s poem is “What is lost” by Lee Sharkey from her book Walking Backwards. She’s the author of twelve books of poems, most recently Equations, leads a creative writing workshop for adults recovering from mental illness and serves as Senior Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. She was the winner of last year’s Maine Poetry Postcard contest.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

Jun 14, 2019

Today’s poem is “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was born in Rockland, Maine in 1892.  She was one of the most popular writers of her time and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. 


Jun 7, 2019

Today’s poem is “Students” by Rebecca Goodale. She creates unique and limited edition books, many of them with sculptural components.  Since 2000 she has been creating Artist’s Books about Maine’s rare plants and animals. Her books are in many private and public collections, including the Maine Women Writers Collection at UNE, the Library of Congress and the Fogg Museum Fine Art Library at Harvard University. She has been teaching part-time for the University of Southern Maine for 4 decades.

The McCarthy Hearings

May 31, 2019

Today’s poem is “The McCarthy Hearings” by Ira Sadoff. He’s published six collections of poetry, most recently True Faith (BOA editions) and is currently working on a new book called Country Living. He’s also published a novel, and a critical book on poetry and culture called History Matters. He taught at Colby College for 39 years.

First Encounter Beach

May 24, 2019

Today’s poem is “First Encounter Beach” by Alison Hawthorne Deming. Alison lived in Portland for many years and is a longtime summer resident of Grand Manan Island. Her most recent books are the poetry collection Stairway to Heaven (Penguin 2016), the essay collection Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit (Milkweed 2014), and Death Valley: Painted Light, a collaboration with photographer Stephen Strom (George F. Thompson 2016). Alison is professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. 

The Rhubarb Route

May 17, 2019

Today’s poem is “The Rhubarb Route” by Wesley McNair. Wes was Maine’s fourth poet laureate and is the author of ten books of poems, most recently The Unfastening. He’s currently professor emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine Farmington, where he directed the creative writing program for many years.