Maine Poet Laureate Stu Kestenbaum awarded $50,000

NEW YORK — Maine Poet Laureate and Deer Isle resident Stuart Kestenbaum is among 23 poet laureates who each will receive $50,000 to spearhead civic poetry programs in their communities. The recipients include poet laureates from U.S. states, cities and towns and the Navajo Nation.

As one of the Academy of American Poets’ 2020 Poet Laureate Fellows, Kestenbaum will work with young Maine writers to develop a podcast and one-time radio program. Called “Voices of the Future,” the former Haystack Mountain School of Crafts director will develop a series of interviews with budding writers ages 6-18 at the “Telling Room,” a nonprofit organization in Portland that empowers diverse youth to share their voices with the world. The “Telling Room” will receive $75,000 to implement the program.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage,” Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, said Thursday. “We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward.”

The Academy’s Poets Laureate Fellowship program is funded annually, through a $4.5-million grant, through 2022.

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