The director of the Kingfield town library will be Maine’s next poet laureate, the Maine Arts Commission announced Wednesday.

Julia Bouwsma of New Portland, director of the Webster Library in Kingfield, will be the sixth poet to hold the honorary position, according to a news release by David Greenham, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission.

Julia Bouwsma Photo courtesy of Maine Arts Commission

“Following the review of 20 very accomplished applicants, we’re thrilled that Julia emerged as the poet to carry on Maine’s tradition of celebrating poetry by naming a State Poet Laureate,” Greenham said.

A panel of five judges, including Gov. Janet Mills, North Haven author and poet Susan Minot, Maine Humanities Council Assistant Director Samaa Abdurraquid, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Executive Director Gibson Fay-LeBlanc and Maine State Library Executive Director James Ritter, made the selection.

“I deeply appreciate Julia Bouwsma’s ability to capture the courage and spirit of our state, including life in rural Maine and the resilience of Maine people,” said Mills, whose hometown is Farmington. “With unflinching honesty, her poems explore the history, the heartache, and the hope of people who seek to build a better life for themselves here in Maine, with dirt under their nails and grit in their souls.”

Bouwsma lives off the grid in New Portland in Somerset County, where she writes poetry, is a farmer and a small-town librarian. She is the author of two poetry collections: “Midden” (Fordham University Press 2018) and “Work by Bloodlight” (Cider Press Review, 2017). She is also the recipient of the 2018 and 2019 Maine Literary Award for a poetry book.

Bouwsma, a former managing editor for Alice James Books, is also an instructor at the University of Maine at Farmington and on the Community Advisory Board for the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

The Maine State Poet Laureate position was established in 1995 by the Legislature, and each poet laureate serves for five years. The law stipulates that the poet laureate reside in Maine and have published “distinguished poetry.” Nominees are selected from a list of candidates recommended by the Maine Arts Commission.

Stuart Kestenbaum is the state’s most recent poet laureate, having served from 2016 through 2020.


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