Plunkett Fest at UMA

Apr 13, 2017
Naomi Shihab Nye

Augusta — The 15th annual Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival is set for Friday, April 21, at the University of Maine, 46 University Drive. The evening program, featuring international poet Naomi Shihab Nye, begins 7:30 p.m. in Jewett Hall Auditorium.

A renowned writer, Nye has more than 30 publications that blend her life experiences and heritage as a Palestinan American in poetry and children’s literature. In addition to her reading, and subsequent signing in the Danforth Gallery, the evening will include welcome by Appleton’s Ellen M. Taylor, professor of English; opening remarks by UMA President James Conneely; and reading by winners of Maine high school and University of Maine System contests, introduced by Jan Bunford.

This year, the festival is combined with the UMA English Conference. Poetry festival events earlier in the day include a lunch keynote address at 1 p.m. on Getting Started: Writing and Creative Process by Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum; and a panel discussion on Poetry and the Environment featuring Gary Lawless, Kathleen Ellis, Dennis Camire and Cathleen Miller.

Plunkett was a UMA English professor for nearly 30 years and co-editor of Kennebec: A Portfolio of Maine Writing, an annual magazine published by the university from 1977 to 1992 and distributed free throughout the state. A poet and fiction writer as well as a teacher and editor, Plunkett helped organize and direct the Maine Poets Festival, a hugely popular celebration of poets and poetry that ran from 1976 to 1983 at UMA, the College of the Atlantic, and the Maine College of Art.

Because Plunkett worked to make poetry accessible to all, the Plunkett Poetry Festival is always free and open to the public. However, seating in the Jewett Auditorium is limited, so anyone interested in attending the Friday night program is encouraged to reserve a seat online at the Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival page at

This event is funded by UMA Cultural Events, the provost’s office, Diversity, Augusta Student Programming fund and Maine Humanities Council. For more information, contact Taylor at

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