The fifth annual Maine Postmark Poetry Contest, a statewide competition, is held in conjunction with the 10th annual Belfast Poetry Festival, set for Oct. 17 and 18. Maine residents and everyone with access to a Maine post office or mailbox this summer are invited to enter. Citizens, residents and visitors to our great state are all welcome; the only rule is that all entries must bear a Maine postmark.

To enter, submit one poem of up to two total pages in length; each entry must be accompanied by a $5 reading fee. Proceeds will be used to support the festival. Entrants may submit more than one poem, but each additional poem is an additional $5.

The Belfast Poetry Festival Committee will screen entries and forward finalists to an outside judge — Gary Lawless, poet of national and historic reputation, publisher at Blackberry Books and co-owner of Gulf of Maine Books — who will choose first, second and third place winners. The first place winner will receive a $100 cash prize and publication in Off the Coast, Maine’s International Poetry Journal.

Winners will be invited to read their winning poems and be honored at the Belfast Poetry Festival; winning poems also will be announced and published in the Maine press. The top 10 poems will be featured in Belfast art galleries during October as part of the festival’s Gallery Hunt.

Submissions are welcome now; only submissions received with a Maine postmark dated Aug. 1 or earlier will be read. Poems should be sent without the poet’s name on the poem and accompanied by a cover letter listing the poet’s name, contact information (address, email and phone) and the title of the poem(s) submitted, so that poems can be read anonymously. Cover letters need not include biographical information. Poems sent without a cover letter or entry fee will be disqualified. All poems must be original and previously unpublished. Poems will not be returned, so do not send originals or an SASE. Winners will be notified by Sept. 15; other confirmation of receipt should not be expected.

Entries accompanied by a cover letter with contact information and a check for $5 per poem made out to the City of Belfast should be sent to Jacob Fricke, Belfast Poetry Festival/Attn: Maine Postmark Poetry Contest/P.O. Box 911/Belfast, ME 04915.

For more information on the 10th annual Belfast Poetry Festival, the contest or the Gallery Hunt, contact Fricke at or visit

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