Seven Maine Coast students were among the 20 finalists selected by Merriconeag Poetry Festival co-judges and well-known Maine poets Lee Sharkey and Linda Aldrich. The students—ninth grader Ava Teegarden, sophomores Isabel Konstantino, Wilson Haims, Finn Dierks-Brown, and seniors Cassandra Albano, Emma Goldberg-Courtney and Fiona Libby–will be honored at the Festival on Sunday, April 30.
In separate news, sophomore Avery Bakewell earned second place honors for her poem “Starving” in the statewide Plunkett High School Poetry Contest. She has been invited to read her work and receive a cash prize at the Plunkett Poetry Festival on Friday, April 21 at the University of Maine, Augusta.
The Merriconeag Poetry Festival program will feature music by senior Tucker Pierce and junior Nick Neveu. In addition, finalists will meet Judge Linda Aldrich, hear her speak about the importance of poetry and read some of her own work. They will read their winning poems, receive a booklet comprised of all the finalists’ pieces, and receive as well as a gift certificate provided by a local bookstore: Longfellow in Portland, Gulf of Maine in Brunswick, and Sherman’s in Freeport. The top three prize-winners will also be announced; they will have their poems displayed on a large poster that will be distributed to the nearly fifty public and private high schools whose students were invited to submit work.
Judges Lee Sharkey and Linda Aldrich selected the finalists in a “blind” process; submissions had no identifying names or school affiliations attached, only each poem’s title.
Lee Sharkey’s Walking Backwards recently appeared from Tupelo Press. Her earlier collections include Calendars of Fire (Tupelo, 2013) and A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid, 2008). Her work has been published in numerous journals, including Crazyhorse, FIELD, Kenyon Review, and The Massachusetts Review. She is the recipient the Maine Arts Commission’s Fellowship in Literary Arts, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance’s Distinguished Achievement Award, and the RHINO Editor’s Prize. She serves as Senior Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal.
Linda Aldrich has published two collections of poetry, Foothold (2008) and March and Mad Women (2012), was a recent finalist for the Maine Literary Award in Poetry 2016, and was awarded the Emily Dickinson Award for Poetry from Universities West Press. She has published poems in Denver Quarterly, Third Coast, Poet Lore, Cimarron Review, The Snake Nation Review, Ilanot Review, and the Maine Arts Journal, among others. Linda received an MFA in poetry from Vermont College. She teaches English at Southern Maine Community College and is Managing Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. She also co-hosts the Local Writers at the Local Buzz Reading Series in Cape Elizabeth with poet Marcia Brown.