Kingfield librarian named Maine’s next poet laureate

Poet Julia Bouwsma lives off the grid in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, farmer and library director for Webster Library in Kingfield.

AUGUSTA — On Aug. 4, the Maine Arts Commission announced that Julia Bouwsma has been named Maine’s sixth poet laureate. 

Bouwsma was selected following a review by a panel of five judges: Governor (and poet) Janet Mills, North Haven author and poet Susan Minot, Maine Humanities Council Assistant Director Samaa Abdurraqib, Maine Writers and Publishers Executive Director Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, and Maine State Library Executive Director James Ritter. 

Although she does not know her personally, Governor Mills was an enthusiastic supporter of Bouwsma’s poems.  

“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 Gov. Mills. 

Stuart Kestenbaum recently completed his term as poet laureate, and he expressed his excitement about the qualities that Bouwsma will bring to the post. 

“Julia is a wonderful choice to be Maine’s poet laureate. Her poems are remarkable in their focus and intensity and her training as a librarian will bring an added dimension to projects that she will develop,” Kestenbaum said. 

Bouwsma lives off the grid in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, farmer and library director for Webster Library in Kingfield. She is the author of two poetry collections: “Midden” and “Work by Bloodlight.” A former managing editor for Alice James Books, Bouwsma currently serves as an instructor at University of Maine at Farmington and on the Community Advisory Board for Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. 

The poet laureate position was established by Maine statute in 1995. The specific duties are minimal to ensure incumbents have maximum freedom to work on their own projects during their tenure.  

While the position does not include a stipend, all expenses are paid for appearances and programs, which include an annual lecture and poetry reading, participation in the Maine Arts Commission’s administration of the national Poetry Out Loud project and appearances and events to broaden appreciation and understanding of, and participation in, poetry in Maine communities.  

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