The ninth annual Belfast Poetry Festival has announced that Marilyn Hotch of Camden is the winner of this year’s Maine Postmark Poetry Contest for her poem, “Mother.” Runners-up are Darla Himeles of Castine, Kathryn Robyn of Belfast and Lee Sharkey of Vienna.

Judge Laurel Ann Bogen of Beyond Baroque in Venice, Calif., referred to Hotch’s poem’s haunting quality, evoked in part by the repetition of two sections, saying “long after I read it, the poem was still creeping around somewhere in my medulla oblongata … That reiteration brings the reader the sense of the dysfunction and its aftermath within a family  At the same time, the use of imagery and heightened language works on another subliminal level: we are all children of dysfunctional families. And the way we survive is by making art out of the madness.”

More than 60 poets from across the state, including summer people, submitted to this year’s contest. Other finalists include Karen Stevenson, Warren; Martin Steingesser, Portland; Leslie Moore, Brooksville; George V. Van Deventer, Bristol; Thomas R. Moore, Brooksville; and Cathy Ramsdell, Portland.

In a new addition to this year’s festival programming, readers may visit the winning poem and those of the nine other finalists by participating in this year’s Maine Postmark Gallery Hunt. From the First Friday in October (Oct. 4) through the festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19, the 10 winning poems will be on display in downtown art galleries. Gallery Hunt cards, available at the Belfast Free Library, Yo Mama’s Home and Belfast bookstores, will list the gallery locations of the winning poems. Those who visit all 10 galleries and have their cards initialed will be able to redeem those cards for deluxe commemorative festival buttons featuring this year’s Festival Image, “Bird Brain” by Belfast artist Joan Proudman.

Maine Postmark Poetry Contest winners will read at the opening of the festival’s feature presentation, the “Poem to Behold” multimedia show Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center, Route 3. The evening’s program will feature a multimedia presentation of collaborative poetry and art by 13 poets and 15 visual artists, as well as a lively reception with food, drink and a chance to meet the poets and artists.

The ninth annual Belfast Poetry Festival also will feature a Poetry Performance Night including a presentation by the Poet Rising collective of Portland and an open reading; and various morning and afternoon workshops, led by Maine poetry notables, on both writing and performance topics. For complete details, including a full schedule and how to register for workshops, visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or