FARMINGTON — Aside from promoting poetry within the state, there are no exact guidelines for how a Maine poet laureate is expected to go about his or her five-year term.

But current Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum said he plans to follow in the footsteps of predecessor Wesley McNair and view the role as an opportunity to expose as many audiences as possible to the power of poetry.

“I think people have a yearning for poetry, but I think it’s not at the forefront of their minds,” Kestenbaum said. “I want to find those audiences that weren’t expecting to hear a poem.”

On Thursday evening, Kestenbaum and McNair will bring their poetry to an audience of college students at a reading at Emery Community Center for the Arts at the University of Maine at Farmington. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The poets will read from their work and then open the floor to questions.

Maine poet laureates are selected to serve a five-year term by the governor, who chooses from a list of candidates recommended by the Maine Art Commission. To be considered, poets must be a full-time Maine resident and have a distinguished body of poetic work, according to the Maine Arts Commission’s website. McNair served as poet laureate from 2011 to 2015. Kestenbaum will serve until 2020.

Kestenbaum, who was named Maine poet laureate in March, said he feels that poetry is often wrongfully portrayed as a quiz with listeners trying to find the hidden meaning. But he says poetry is simpler than that.

“I think sometimes people may be concerned they might not understand poetry. But if you get to hear it, you’re just there with it,” Kestenbaum said. “There are moments when poetry is the perfect answer.”

Lauren Abbate can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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