BELFAST — The 16th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival is pleased to announce that Mike Bove of Portland is the winner of this year’s Maine Postmark Poetry Contest. The contest, now in its 11th year, is a statewide poetry event; more than 200 entries by poets from all regions of Maine were received. Bove will read the winning poem at the festival’s showcase reading Saturday, Oct. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Zoom.

Contest judge Alexandria Peary, Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, says of Bove’s winning poem, “Basho’s Death Poem, New York City,” “If ‘Basho’s Death Poem, New York City’ decided to stop being a poem, it would probably become an origami finger game, one of those paper contraptions that children use to amuse playmates. The poem is a series of poetic-logical folds, intuitive and deductive at the same time. The interplay between Basho, a death poem, poems that apparently stay as prewriting in a notebook (preferring seclusion like someone napping in a hotel) but somehow push the speaker out the door, and the contemporary urban setting is sheer magic! There’s also an interesting range in animation, from subtle to full-throttle personification: notes ‘say,’ the poem ‘wants to follow / the speaker’ on the street, and dreams wander. The rotations of the game come to a natural end with the unwritten, a non-poem, and non-existence, and that ‘wandering dream.'”

Alexandria Peary Photo by Jane Button Photography

Bove is the author of two books of poems: “Big Little City” (2018) and “House Museum” (2021). He holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is an Associate Professor of English at Southern Maine Community College. He lives with his family in Portland, Maine where he was born and raised.

Runners-up include Second Place, Jeri Theriault, South Portland, “ode to my father’s body;” Third Place, Matt Bernier, Pittsfield, “The Wolffish;” Honorable Mentions: Anne Rankin, Brunswick, “Small Primer on Loneliness” and Bridget McAlonan, Topsham, “Forest Creatures.”

The other finalists include: “Sestina for Building,” Katherine Hagopian Berry, Bridgton; “Flames,” David Sloan, Brunswick; “Oneness of Thought and Action,” Doug “Woody” Woodsum, Smithfield; “Analogue Tracks,” Joel Lipman, Northport; and “Evening of PM2.5,” Laura Bonazzoli, Rockport.

All 10 finalist poems will be on display in the Abbott Room of the Belfast Free Library during October, and the winning poems and runners-up will be read during the festival’s general showcase Saturday, Oct. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Zoom (register here). The Saturday evening program will also feature a celebratory showcase of poetry, visual art, and performing arts collaborations, an extravaganza of artistic possibility, including work by poet Myronn Hardy & filmmaker Anita Clearfield, poet Julia Bouwsma & artist Asata Radcliffe, poet Kristen Lindquist & artist Anna Strickland, poet Diego Bonilla & artist Rodolfo Mata, poet Jefferson Navicky & artist Rebecca Goodale, and poet Jan Bindas-Tenney & artist Ling-Wen Tsai.

The 16th annual festival is made possible with support from First National Bank, The Maine Review, the Belfast Free Library, the City of Belfast, Waterfall Arts, and the office of the Belfast Poet Laureate. For more information, email Jacob Fricke at jacob@belfastpoetry.com or see belfastpoetry.com.