Orland artists’ retreat to host virtual poetry festival

ORLAND — On Friday, Aug. 21, National Poets’ Day, opening ceremonies will be held at the Oranbega Retreat Center, a retreat house for writers, painters, playwrights, musicians and poets.

The center was founded by the Rev. Dr. Jenny Reece. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a portion of the celebration will be held virtually. A poetry festival, held via Zoom technology, will take place from 7-9 p.m. Friday. Former Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair will headline the festival. Before this virtual event, an outdoor opening ceremony will include live music by jazz musician Ryan Blotnick and his quartet. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic and there will be an open mic for local poetry enthusiasts. The outdoor event begins at 4 p.m. at the Oranbega Retreat Center on the banks of the Narramissic River. The in-person outdoors event will be limited to 35 guests, who must wear masks and observe social distancing.

Guests of Oranbega Retreat Center’s Opening and Poetry Festival will be welcomed not only by Reece, but also by the center’s resident stewards and lovers of the arts, Diane and Robert Phipps. “Oranbega” is a word from an indigenous language meaning, “the quiet waters between the rapids.”

On Friday, McNair will read excerpts from his latest published volume, “Dwellers in the House of the Lord.” He will be joined by poet and teacher Sidney Wade, whose eight books of poetry were published while she was a professor in Florida and summering in the Rangeley Lakes area of Maine. She will be reading from her most recent publication: “Deep Gossip, New and Selected Poems.” Also presenting their work will be Maine poet and folklorist Margaret Yocum and the Chilean-American poet Felix Acuña. The latter is a new voice, who will read in both Spanish and English. Each will present their poems via Zoom between 7-9 p.m. There will be time for participants ask the poets about their writing, and to discuss the readings.

To register for this portion of the event, or for more information about Oranbega Retreat Center, visit oranbegacenter.com or email [email protected] Up to 100 people may attend the poetry festival by Zoom.


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