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Maine poet to visit Houlton, Lille this week

HOULTON, Maine — An award winning Maine poet is headed to Aroostook County for a two-day tour to showcase work from poets across the state.

Gary Lawless of Nobleboro garnered the 2017 Maine Humanities Council’s Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize for his work in celebrating lesser-known voices in Maine poetry. Lawless has been sharing works by these poets each month in the MHC’s “Notes from An Open Book” e-newsletter, and will be in The County to read some of their works live with “Voices of Maine Poetry.”
He will appear at the Cary Library in Houlton at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, and at the Musée culturel du Mont-Carmel in Lille at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. There is no charge to attend.

“I am very excited for this event,” Lawless, who also owns Blackberry Books in Nobleboro and is co-owner of Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, said Wednesday. “It will be wonderful to get to know some of the residents of The County and share some poetry.”

During “Voices of Maine Poetry,” Lawless will be talking about poets that people should know and what they contribute to conversations about Maine and poetry.

“I have done a lot of work with groups of Mainers who aren’t represented in the writing, poetry and arts community,” said Lawless. “I have been using poetry as a way to help them tell their stories. I have worked with refugee communities in Lewiston and Portland, Vietnam veterans and the homeless in Portland.”

Lawless said that he was drawn to visit Aroostook County because he was interested in learning about the residents and culture in the area.

“Living down here, you don’t hear much about Aroostook County,” he said. “But I know that it is home to French and Swedish speakers and the Amish community,” he said. “It will be interesting to learn about them and hear their stories. It is important for us to get along, rather than building walls.”

Lawless said that people who are underrepresented in the state often have a great deal to say, which is why he enjoys working with them.

“Poetry gets people talking,” he said. “There are many good storytellers out there. You don’t have to have a degree in writing or literature to be a good storyteller.”

Along with his work as a poet, Lawless also is an associate professor of literature at Bates College in Lewiston. He also served as poet-in-residence for the town of Sitka, Alaska, and for the National Park Service at Isle Royale National Park at Lake Superior.

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