A daylong odyssey of poetry along the coast of Maine will take place Thursday, Oct. 7. Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, has spent six months planning Maine’s day of remembrance for poets gone by.
And with the support of 20 current and former state poets laureate, he is kicking it off with readings from the works of 36 Maine poets in six towns.
In his quest to bring renewed attention to America’s deceased poets, Skold traveled more than 15,000 miles around the country in order to visit and photograph the graves of 150 poets. Now his vision of an annual remembrance day for poets of the past is seeing its inaugural year. Maine is one of 10 states holding a Dead Poets Remembrance day this week.
At each of five poetically picturesque settings, readers will recite not only the most famous and familiar poetry of Maine, but also poetic gems from artists whose names may be less widely known or that are fading from memory. The words of Edna St. Vincent Millay, E.B. White and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow will be heard along with those of Rachel Field and Hortense Flexner.
The event will begin at dawn, 6:15 a.m., at the Giant Steps on Bailey Island. After stops for readings in Nobleboro, Wiscasset, Camden and Blue Hill, the day’s final readings will take place on top of Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island.
With help from Annie Finch, Gary Lawless and Maine’s poet laureate, Betsy Sholl, Skold has gathered many readers who have a special connection to the featured poets. Some of the highlights include:
• Wilbert Snow’s son Nicholas will read his father’s work on top of Mount Battie in Camden Hills.
• Also on top of Mount Battie, high school senior Emma Theobalds will read “Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. It is fitting, since Millay was about Emma’s age when she wrote the poem, inspired by the setting where Emma will recite the poem.
• A friend of Daniel Hoffman, who once was poet laureate of the United States, will read the work of Hoffman’s widow, Elizabeth McFarland Hoffman, in Blue Hill.
• Two nieces of Ruth Moore will read their aunt’s poetry on top of Cadillac Mountain at sunset.
• After two years of work on the biography of Rachel Field, whose former Maine retreat is now my own, I, Robin Wood, will be honored to read Rachel’s poetry on top of Cadillac Mountain, in view of our shared island home.
The event is open to the public. Participants may attend any segment of the day’s events or join the caravan for the entire journey.