Rockland's Bachofner takes top prize

Belfast poetry contest winner, fest announced

Sep 22, 2017
Carol Willette Bachofner

Belfast — The 13th annual Belfast Poetry Festival has announced that Carol Willette Bachofner of Rockland is the winner of this year’s Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.

The contest, now in its eighth year, is a statewide poetry event; more than 200 entries by poets from all regions of Maine were received. Bachofner will read her winning poem at the festival’s showcase reading Saturday, Oct. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Troy A. Howard Middle School, 173 Lincolnville Ave./Route 52.

Contest judge Katharine Rauk, poet and professor at North Hennepin County Community College in Minneapolis and convener for the Annual Conference on the Great Mother and the New Father in Nobleboro, said of Bachofner’s winning poem, “Passagassawaukeag,” that “In this poem, a river is not just a topographical feature of the landscape; instead, it's a language! The poet joyfully reminds us the natural world is alive and that we can be ‘soaked’ in conversation with it.”

Bachofner’s poems have been anthologized in “Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England” and have appeared in dozens of journals and publications including Bangor Metro, The Aurorean, Prairie Schooner, The Comstock Review and others. In 2010, Bachofner, then Rockland Poet Laureate, founded the successful city-wide celebration of poetry, Poetry Month Rockland, held annually in April.

She is the author of several books of poetry including “Daughter of the Ardennes Forest”; “Breakfast at the Brass Compass”; “I Write in the Greenhouse”; “Native Moons, Native Days”; and, most recently, “The Boyfriend Project.” A member of the New England Poetry Club and Maine Poets Society, Bachofner is a working poet, editing and publishing an online literary journal, teaching workshops, blogging on writing and mentoring emerging poets. She will receive $100, and “Passagassawaukeag” will be published in the fall issue of The Maine Review.

Runners-up include Jefferson Navicky of Freeport, second place, "Proof”; Marita O'Neill of Portland, third place, "Arsonist's Blues”; Katherine Hagopian Berry of Bridgton, honorable mention, "Sestina for Trump's America"; and the late Karie Friedman of Montville, honorable mention, "Place for Spearing Sturgeon by Torchlight,” which will be read at the festival by Judy Kaber of Belfast.

The other finalists are Kevin Sweeney, South Portland, "The Temperature in Aroostook County"; Valerie Lawson, Robbinston, "The Alewife Project"; Rebecca Jessup, Belfast, "To a lottery ticket"; Elke Dorr, Deer Isle, "Frieda at Eighty-Seven"; and Judy Tierney, Portland, "Telling.”

All 10 finalist poems will be on display in the Abbott Room of Belfast Free Library during October; and the winning poems and runners-up will be read during the festival’s general showcase Oct. 14. 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 Cate Marvin and artist Ragna Bruno; poet Sharif S. Elmusa an artist Susan Smith; poet Jacques J. Rancourt an artist Scott Minzy; poet Kifah Abdulla, poet Wendy Burk and composer Erica Quin-Easter; poet Michelle Menting and poet and artist Jodi Paloni; and poet Mark Melnicove and artist Terry Winters.

The 13th annual festival is made possible with support from The Maine Review, Belfast Free Library, the City of Belfast and the office of the Belfast Poet Laureate. For more information, email Jacob Fricke at or visit

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

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.