May 29, 2020
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20 area high school poets to be honored at 11th annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival

Community Author: Deeda Burgess, Public Relations Coordinator
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Deeda Burgess | BDN
Deeda Burgess | BDN

FREEPORT — Twenty high school poets have been selected as honorees at the upcoming Merriconeag Poetry Festival, to be held at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport on Sunday, April 29, at 3 p.m.  Maine’s Poet Laureate, Stuart Kestenbaum, selected the finalists from a pool that included submissions from twenty area high schools.

Four high schools placed multiple winners among the finalists: Falmouth High School led the way with seven, followed by Maine Coast Waldorf School with four, Morse High School with three, and Cape Elizabeth High School with two.  In all, eight high schools will be represented at the Festival, including: North Yarmouth Academy, Deering, Gorham, and Spruce Mountain.

This year’s finalists, in no particular order, are as follows: from Cape Elizabeth, Makena Deveraux and Raina Sparks; from Morse High School, Sidonia Stanton, Elizabeth Schotten, and Nina Keyes; from Maine Coast Waldorf School, Myah Garrison, Wilson Haims, Miles Lloyd and Charles Van West; from Falmouth High School, Emma Auer, Ella Coffin, Kayla Ford, Blake Knox, Sophie Magadieu, Naomi Radtke Rowe, and Claudia Spelman; from Deering High School, Janessa Roberts; from Spruce Mountain High School, Acacia Fournier; from Gorham High School, Grace Flynn; and from North Yarmouth Academy, Jackie Ellsworth.

During the Festival, winning poets will meet Judge Kestenbaum, hear him speak about the importance of poetry and read some of his 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.

Judge Kestenbaum selected the finalists in a “blind” process; submissions had no identifying names or school affiliations attached, only each poem’s title. Appointed in 2016 to be Maine’s Poet Laureate, Kestenbaum is the author of four poetry collections: Only Now (Deerbrook Editions, 2014), Prayers & Run-on Sentences (Deerbrook, 2007), House of Thanksgiving (Deerbrook, 2003), and Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press, 1990)—as well as a collection of essays: The View From Here (Brynmorgen Press, 2012). He also served as director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for 27 years.


Founded in 1984, Maine Coast Waldorf School serves some 270 students from early childhood through high school. The mission of Maine Coast Waldorf School is to awaken the highest potential in every student by fostering clarity of thought, warmth of heart, and strength of resolve to make a difference in the world. While independent, the school is part of a worldwide Waldorf school movement that encompasses more than 1,100 schools in more than 80 countries. Maine Coast Waldorf School is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN).To learn more please visit or call 207.865.3900, Ext.103.