The Maine Arts Commission has announced the appointment of Maine’s fifth state poet laureate. Stuart Kestenbaum, a resident of Deer Isle, will succeed Wesley McNair, who held the position since 2011.

By legislative statute, the State Poet Laureate is appointed for a five-year term and may be reappointed for a second consecutive term. Kestenbaum’s predecessors include, in addition to McNair, Kate Barnes (1996-1999), Baron Wormser (2000-2005) and Betsy Sholl (2006-2011).

Kestenbaum is the author of four collections of poems: “Pilgrimage” (Coyote Love Press); “House of Thanksgiving” (Deerbrook Editions); “Prayers and Run-on Sentences” (Deerbrook Editions); and “Only Now” (Deerbrook Editions). He has written and spoken widely on craft making and creativity; and his poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines including Tikkun, the Sun, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Northeast Corridor and others, as well as on Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac.”

Kestenbaum retired last year as the longtime director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. He currently is chairman of the American Craft Council, for which he was elected an honorary fellow in 2006. In March, he also was named an honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts during NCECA’s 50th annual conference in Kansas City, Mo.

“Stu’s work beautifully captures the quirky, rural characteristics that make Maine unique and beloved,” said Julie Richard, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission. “The selection committee was unanimous in recommending him to the Governor to be Maine’s next Poet Laureate.”

Maine’s poet laureate position is an appointment designed to promote poetry throughout the state while honoring an eminent Maine poet for his or her achievements.  The position was established by Maine statute in 1995. To be considered for this appointment, poets must be full-time Maine residents and have a distinguished body of poetic work.

“I’m so honored and grateful to have been selected as the state’s poet laureate. I hope to make connections between writers and other creative disciplines and to celebrate poetry’s power to transform us — poet and reader alike — in unexpected ways,” Kestenbaum said.

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