Blue Hill Books will host Portland author Colin Woodard at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 24, at Bagaduce Music Lending Library on South Street. PORTLAND PRESS HERALD PHOTO

Steelband Dance, book launch to benefit literary fest

BLUE HILL — An upcoming steel-band street dance and the launch of Portland journalist and best-selling historian Colin Woodard’s paperback edition of his latest book, “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood,” will raise funds for Word, Blue Hill’s annual October literary arts festival.

Flash! in the Pans steel band will host a dance from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, June 21, at the Blue Hill Town Park. Donations at the gate will be shared with Word.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, June 24, Woodard will launch the paperback edition of “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood” at Bagaduce Music Lending Library on South Street. The book came out in hardcover a year ago. Sponsored by Blue Hill Books, proceeds from book sales will benefit Word.

Although Woodard’s appearance is free and open to the public, space at the lending library is limited by COVID-19 restrictions. Those planning to attend must pre-register through or at 374-5632.

“Union” tells the story of the struggle to create a national myth for the United States, one that could hold its rival regional cultures together and forge an American nationhood. “Woodard does make visions of history into a kind of human drama,” The Washington Post wrote last year. “He writes with a storyteller’s pace and vividness.”

The author is best known for “American Nations,” an account of the 11 unique “nations” that make up the U.S., and for “The Lobster Coast,” a history of Maine coastal communities. He is an award-winning reporter for the Portland Press Herald.

For 30 years, Flash! in the Pans has played outdoor steel band dances, with music ranging from calypso to classic swing to contemporary pop. This year’s band is a coalition of musicians from across the Blue Hill Peninsula, including high school students from Planet Pan and professional pannists from Atlantic Clarion.

Word returns live for its fifth annual festival Oct. 21-24. Featured evening guests will be novelist Susan Choi, whose “Trust Exercise” won the 2019 National Book Award, and Phuc Tran, Portland author of the celebrated 2020 memoir “Sigh, Gone.” Tran also will teach a memoir workshop. Other workshops will include songwriting (Noel Paul Stookey), poetry (Tim Seibles), juvenile fiction (Anica Mrose Rissi), flash fiction (Lori Thatcher), bookmaking (Mia Bogyo) and “how to scare your reader” (Elizabeth Hand).

In collaboration with New Surry Theatre and the Blue Hill Historical Society and with funding from the Maine Bicentennial Commission, Word 2021 will present an original Bundy Boit play based on the writings of Blue Hill-born Mary Ellen Chase. Panels on food writing and publishing, as well as Word’s popular Poetry Crawl and art show, will round out the schedule.  

Word is funded by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other generous donors. Word’s media partner is WERU-FM. Its fiscal sponsor is Blue Hill Community Development.

Information: or 374-5632.

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