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Portland Poet Laureate Program

The words "Portland Poet Laureate" wrap around the ceremonial pen that is passed from Poet Laureate to Poet Laureate

Searching for Portland’s Next Poet Laureate!

The Portland Poet Laureate is an honorary position given every three years to a resident of Greater Portland who is both an accomplished poet and excellent ambassador in the community, helping to promote and bring new audiences to the art of poetry.

Portland Public Library invites members of the Greater Portland community to nominate our eighth Poet Laureate for the 2024-2027 term.

SUBMIT A NOMINATION NOW »


What Does Portland’s Poet Laureate Do?

Portland’s Poet Laureate spreads appreciation for poetry as they choose. With the support of library staff, each Portland Poet Laureate has developed a small project or series of projects.

Previous Poets Laureate have:

  • Curated a reading & performance series
  • Placed poems in public spaces
  • Hosted a local access TV show featuring poets
  • Taught workshops in schools
  • Developed an anthology of poems by local poets
  • Wrote a regular poetry column in the Portland Press Herald
  • Launched an online poetry/spoken word/hip-hop website and curriculum

More information about previous Poets Laureate can be found on our website.

Who Qualifies?

The poet must live in one of the following towns and have lived there for at least a year: Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Falmouth, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, or any of the islands in Casco Bay.

The poet should have both an impressive body of work and a history of being active in the local poetry community, including attending and/or organizing readings, being affiliated with an organization, magazine, or press which promotes poetry, or trying to expose more people to poetry.

The poet should be at least 15 years of age.

The Nomination Process

To submit your nomination, please complete this digital form. All are welcome to submit a nomination on behalf of themselves or someone else. Nominees must be at least 15 years of age.

You may also choose to submit a nomination letter:

Portland Poet Laureate Committee
c/o Sarah Skawinski
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101

Please submit your nomination by April 30, 2024.

SUBMIT A NOMINATION NOW »

After reviewing submissions, we will contact nominees for more information and a selection of work.

Questions?

Contact Sarah Skawinski, co-chair for the Portland Poet Laureate Committee:

skawinski@portlib.org | 207-871-1700


About the Portland Poet Laureate Position

Portland Poet Laureate, Maya Williams, pretends to write the comically large official poet laureate pen in a notebook

Photo Credit: Nicole Wolf

The Portland Poet Laureate is an honorary position awarded every three years to a resident of the Greater Portland area who is both an accomplished poet and an excellent ambassador within the community, helping to promote and win new audiences to the art of poetry.

The current and seventh Portland Poet Laureate is Maya Williams, who was inaugurated on July 1, 2021. The Poet Laureate Program runs on volunteer power, drawing on a local group of poets and poetry lovers who serve as a selection committee and assist with projects.

History of the Portland Poet Laureate

The Portland Poet Laureate Program was founded in 2007 by Maine poet Dennis Camire, who worked with local poets, poetry lovers, and the City of Portland to form the nonprofit Maine Poetry Central.

In 2017, Maine Poetry Central was dissolved and the Portland Poet Laureate Program needed a home. Considering the historic link of the U.S. Poet Laureate Program and Library of Congress, the public library became a natural choice to host the city’s laureate program.

In April 2018, Portland Public Library adopted the Portland Poet Laureate Program with the mission of sharing appreciation for reading and writing of poetry throughout the Greater Portland area.

See how the program got started and read about the previous Poets Laureate.