BAR HARBOR — Christian Barter of Bar Harbor has been named Acadia National Park’s first poet laureate. He will serve in the honorary post throughout 2016, the centennial year of both Acadia and the National Park Service.
“We are grateful to Chris Barter for accepting the responsibilities of poet laureate,” said Mike Madell, Acadia’s acting superintendent. “He is not only a published poet of distinction, but also a respected work supervisor on the park’s professional trail crew.”
David MacDonald, president and CEO of Friends of Acadia, said, “Chris Barter’s poems and trails are works of art that provide us access and insight into Acadia National Park and the wonders of the natural world. There is no better person to help Maine and the nation to celebrate Acadia and its 100-year history.”
Madell and MacDonald said the laureate’s duties may include composing poetry that celebrates the park, readings at select events in Maine and leading trail walks to discuss the influence of the natural scene on his poetry and how reading and writing poems have affected his trail building.
“It’s an honor to be chosen for this position,” said Barter, “My work includes natural themes, but also centers on personal relationships and other human interactions. I look forward to the year ahead.”
“Barter is an ideal choice to be Acadia’s first poet laureate,” said Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, poet and board president of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. “Few poets embody the place and spirit of Maine in general and of the park in particular in the way he does.”
Christian Barter’s first book, “The Singers I Prefer,” was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize, Academy of American Poets; his second, “In Someone Else’s House,” (BkMk Press) was the 2014 winner of the Maine Literary Award for Poetry; a third volume is forthcoming from BOA Editions. His work has appeared in “Ploughshares,” “Georgia Review,” “The American Scholar,” “Epoch,” “Friends of Acadia Journal” (of which he served as poetry editor) and other magazines and has been featured on “Poetry Daily,” “Verse Daily,” “The PBS NewsHour” and “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.”
A graduate of Bates College in music composition, Barter also earned a master’s in fine arts in writing from Vermont College of the Arts. He held the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University and was a fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. A former editor for “The Beloit Poetry Journal” and sometime teacher at College of the Atlantic, his primary occupation is as a work supervisor for the Acadia National Park Trail Crew.
MacDonald thanked the Acadia Centennial Task Force for initiating the laureate project. Chaired by Cookie Horner and Jack Russell, the group comprises Friends of Acadia volunteers and staff, Acadia National Park professionals and Mount Desert Island community members. More than 200 partner organizations and their centennial projects, along with a growing calendar of events can be found at www.acadiacentennial2016.org/.