Twenty high school poets have been selected as honorees at the upcoming 10th annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival, to be held at Maine Coast Waldorf School on Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m. Two well-known Maine poets—Lee Sharkey and Linda Aldrich—collaborated to winnow a submission pool of nearly 120 entries down to the finalists. Three regional high schools placed multiple winners among the twenty finalists: Maine Coast led the way with seven, followed by Falmouth High School with four, and Edward Little with two. In all, ten high schools will be represented at the Festival, including: Deering, Waynflete, Chop Point, Greely, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, and North Yarmouth Academy.
This year’s finalists, in no particular order are: from Falmouth High School, Althea Finch-Brand, Ayden Henson, Elizabeth Seeker, and Jacob Seeker; from Edward Little High School, Barrak Abdraba and Nasro Adow; from Maine Coast Waldorf School, Cassandra Albano, Finn Dierks-Brown, Emma Goldberg-Courtney, Wilson Haims, Isabel Konstantino, Fiona Libby, and Ava Teegarden; from Deering High School, Arlo Farr-Weinfeld; from Waynflete, Riley Mayes; from Chop Point School, Ellie Pitot; from Greely High School, Colby Santana; from Cape Elizabeth High School, Raina Sparks; from Gorham High School, Samuella Spurr; and from North Yarmouth Academy, Cameron Woods. For Arlo Farr-Weinfeld, Althea Finch-Brand, Cassandra Albano and Riley Mayes, this is the second year that they have earned finalist honors.
During the Festival, winning poets 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.