Down East 2013 ©
by: Chad Frisbie
Today, poetry’s relationship with the public feels complicated. Its roots in English and American cultural history are massive and continue to sprout new offshoots, but poetry’s presence in our public literary consciousness over the past thirtyish years has sunk below the waves of prose. I find this state of affairs less depressing than exciting and fascinating. The imperative to revive poetry in the public eye gives us a chance to harness creativity and social technology in ways that will change poems for good. Both the city of Portland and the state of Maine are about to take a major step in this direction.
Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (MWPA)  is a Portland-based nonprofit that works to “enrich the cultural life of Maine by supporting writers and the literary arts.” This past month, MWPA teamed up with Maine’s new poet laureate, Wesley McNair , to introduce “Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry.” The initiative will give Mainers frequent opportunities to read poems written by the people who live here: a series of poems to be published weekly in newspapers across the state. You’ll find the first poem, "April," by Stuart Kestenbaum, the first week of May in over twenty-four papers that range from The Portland Sunday Telegram  to the Aroostook Republican , which extends the project’s radius almost 300 miles toward the northeast Canadian border. As a poet who often hears people sigh, "I just don't get poetry," I felt deeply encouraged when I heard about Take Heart. If you’re not writing your own poems or earning a college degree in literature, chances are you have limited contact with poetry written today. Sneaking poems under the noses of average readers will begin to break an amplified silence that has made poetry feel so alien to our daily rhythms.
To read the rest of this article click over to www.LiveWorkPortland.org .