The 11th Annual 2015 Belfast Poetry Festival

The annual Belfast Poetry Festival marks its eleventh year with a bold slate of ways to celebrate poetry, community, and artistic possibility, Friday and Saturday, October 16th and 17th, 2015, at the Belfast Free Library, the Colonial Theatre, and throughout downtown Belfast, Maine.

The 2015 festival will include a Friday night of unadulterated poetry readings; a late-night open mic with performance poetry finale; writing and community-building workshops; an open and energetic panel discussion on “Poetry as a Force for Social Dialogue”; a Gallery Hunt featuring the winners of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest in downtown Belfast art galleries; a parade; opportunities to mix, mingle, and meet; and a Saturday evening multimedia extravaganza of poetry, visual art, and performing arts collaborations; all featuring 14 poets, 7 visual artists, and 14 performing artists from across Maine and beyond.

Friday, October 16th will feature a full night of unadulterated poetry readings, including guest poets from away, all ten winners of the sixth annual Maine Postmark Poetry Contest, and other festival talent, and a late-night open mic with performance poetry finale. Readings begin at 6:30 at the Belfast Free Library with late night open mic and performance poetry finale to follow. Saturday morning, October 17th, begins with a slate of workshops, available to writers of all skill levels, from 10 to 12:30 at the Belfast Free Library. Workshop presenters will include Annaliese Jakimides, Lady Zen, and guest celebrity poet Elizabeth Gordon McKim. Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday afternoon features what is hoped to be a landmark panel discussion, Poetry as a Force for Social Dialogue, a conversation about the possibilities and challenges of using poetry as a force for social dialogue in turbulent times. The panel discussion, from 2 to 4 at the Belfast Free Library, will involve an experienced and diverse slate of panelists hosting a robust public conversation that will subsequently be prepared as a documentary handbook for governments and arts organizations for furthering their own work using the arts to engage community. This event is free and open to the public, and open discussion with audience participation is strongly encouraged — show up and speak up!

Once again, the festival culminates in a Saturday evening celebratory showcase of poetry, visual art, and performing arts collaborations, an extravaganza of artistic possibility, with a reception at the Colonial Theatre at 4 and the main presentation from 5 to 8, featuring music, dance, live readings, projected artwork, and more. Poetic styles range from the socially urgent and historically documentary to the mythically classical, mythically natural, and contemporary liturgical to the jazz-experimental, bop-driven, and slam urban. Art will include upturned historical tropes, historical and documentary photography, nature-inspired mixed media, tattoo art, action abstracts, and Maine-themed realism. Performing arts will include opera, choir, piano, drum, jazz, experimental, courting flute, jazz dance, contemporary dance, and more.

The Belfast Poetry Festival, one of the few community-based, non-academic poetry festivals in the country, is now in its 11th year of production with support from Off the Coast, the Maine Humanities Council, the City of Belfast, the Belfast Free Library, The Belfast Co-op, and Front Street Shipyard. For more information on this year’s events, the contest, or the Gallery Hunt, contact Jacob Fricke at or see our Facebook page.

Schedule & Details 2015

Friday, October 16
Pure Poetry Live: 7 - 11 pm
Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, Belfast
Doors Open

Elizabeth Gordon McKim, the Jazz Poet of Lynn, Massachusetts
Winners of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest
Late Night Open Mic
Performance Poetry Finale

Saturday, October 17
Morning Workshops: 10 AM - 12:30 PM
Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, Belfast

Poetry as a Force for Social Dialogue
Panel Discussion: 2 - 4 PM
Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, Belfast

Poetry, Performance, & Visual Arts Multimedia
Show: 4 - 8 PM

The Colonial Theatre, 163 High Street, Belfast
Welcome Reception — Food and Drink (4 PM)
Poetry, Performance, & Visual Arts Collaborations (5 - 8 PM)

2015 Featured Poets, Performers, and Artists

  • Tameka Cage Conley & artist Alisha Wormsley
  • Karin Spitfire & Kathryn Robyn with composer, conductor, & soprano Anna Dembska
  • Toussaint St. Negritude with The Ace Tones — Alan Crichton, Willis Crichton, & Ethan Andrews
  • A Casting of Light: Guy Wyndham-Jones’s translations of Platonic verse with music by Don Hagar performed by soprano Nancy Ogle & UMO student chorus
  • Leonore Hildebrandt & musician Brian Dyer Stewart 
  • Arielle Greenberg & artist Louise Dinsmore
  • Jeffrey Thomson, poet & photographer
  • Ellen Sander & bassist Mike Whitehead
  • David Sloan & dancer Zoe Konstantino
  • Robin Merrill with tattoo artist Jen Jacques & dancers Skyela & Genevieve Burgess
  • Barbaria Maria & artist Eric Leppanen
  • Lady Zen – poetry & jazz-funk

Annual Celebration

The Belfast Poetry Festival began in 2004 under the auspices of Festivo, a visionary steering committee hoping to seed a great community arts event somewhere in Midcoast Maine. It has been run by the Belfast Poet Laureate (appointed by the Belfast City Council) and a Waldo County steering committee of volunteers each October since then, and is one of the few community-based, non-academic literary festivals in the country. All events are free or low cost to the public.

Activities have included poetry readings; workshops in writing, performance, and community-building; art exhibits and installations; evening performances featuring performance poetry, live projections of visual art, and revue showcases of performing arts; poetry contests and installation scavenger hunts; and book displays by Maine bookstores, publishers, and authors. A highlight of the festival is a curated show of collaborative projects between poets and visual and/or performing artists in Belfast galleries and other venues. These artist/poet teams are chosen by the Belfast Poet Laureate and steering committee and consist of professionally recognized Maine artists and poets. Projects have included sculpture, musical performance, dance, painting, printmaking & broadsides, circus arts, book arts, parades, movies, and installations.

2015 Steering Committee:

Toussaint St. Negritude, Belfast Poet Laureate
Ellen Sander
Lauren Murray
Brenda Harrington
Jacob Fricke


All Festival events are free and open to the public, with donations encouraged.

Donations can be made out to the City of Belfast and mailed to:

Jacob Fricke
Belfast Poetry Festival
P.O. Box 911
Belfast ME 04915

For more information, keep checking this site for regular updates, or contact us.

Or follow us on Facebook!

2015 Poets & Artists

Tameka Cage Conley PhD writes poetry, fiction, plays, and essays. She has received writing fellowships from the Cave Canem Poetry Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and grants from the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments. She is published in numerous journals, including Callaloo, African American Review, Fledgling Rag, and Huizache. She recently wrote the poetry for the cantata, Rise, performed in Washington DC. She is completing her first novel and poetry collection.

Anna Dembska, composer and soprano, directs the Schoodic Summer Chorus; performs ceremonial improvisations as Music of a New Frequency with vocalist Andrea Goodman; creates sound art installations; and teaches voice and musicianship. She’s received numerous grants and commissions, and is enjoying life in coastal Maine after many years of New York City.

Louise Dinsmore is from Newcastle, Maine and now lives in Boston, where she works as an art therapist. She works in paint, mixed-media collage, and sculptural paper and photography and other mediums, with forms and colors inspired by the natural world.

Arielle Greenberg is the author of three collections of poetry and two collections of creative nonfiction and editor of several literary anthologies, and teaches creative writing in the community and at the graduate level at Oregon State University-Cascades. Her work has been included in Best American Poetry and many other anthologies, and she writes a regular column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review. She lives in Belfast, Maine.

Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of The Work at Hand and The Next Unknown. Her poems and translations have been published in the Cafe Review, Drunken Boat, Poetry Salzburg Review, and others. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she was nominated twice for a Pushcart and has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. Leonore lives off the grid in Washington County, teaches at the University of Maine, is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal, and writes and performs original music.

Jen Jacques is one of Portland, Maine’s most heralded tattoo artists, and has studied at Maine College of Art.

Zoe Konstantino has been dancing since the age of two, broadening into more styles and various disciplines in recent years. She currently studies jazz, ballet, modern, hip hop, and lyrical. She has grown up performing in multiple school plays, most recently Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker and The Skin of Our Teeth, and plans to continue in the performing arts.

Eric Leppanen’s interest in physics, the universe and the unknown is depicted in his large abstract paintings formed using reclaimed paints. His approach is to “take ideas, thoughts, colors, action, materials — add energy and let the paint flow.” His materials can be found in nature, aside the road, or from discarded materials… a sort of upcycling. He is currently represented by Asymmetrick Arts in Rockland, and his work is in private collections.

Barbaria Maria is the author of two books of poetry, Crossing Time and Palace Boulevard, and the poetry CD 108 Names ˜ Poems to the Divine. Her multimedia installation, Soul Migration (2011), combined images that don’t usually go together to open up another dimension — not fantasy, but the extraordinary that exists in the ordinary, a kind of magic realism. She is a consultant to writers and others in all stages of the creative process, from initial vision to final polish, and leads various writers’ workshops and a writing and meditation series.

Robin Merrill is a writer, editor, and performance poet from Madison, Maine. She is the author of several books, including two collections of poetry (Moon Pie Press) and five children’s books (Scholastic Book Fairs). Her poems have appeared in hundreds of publications and have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She represented Portland, Maine at the 2013 National Poetry Slam and the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam.

Kathryn Robyn is a local Belfast poet, playwright, and editor of commercial, literary, and theatrical works. She is also the author of two books that use the home as a tool for self-discovery and healing, which have been translated in over ten countries, both published by New Harbinger Publications: Spiritual Housecleaning and The Emotional House.

Ellen Sander came to Belfast by way of Beijing, leaving a string of published works and shattered poetics in her wake. She was a pioneering rock journalist and wrote Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties. Her poetry began to mature during her years in Bolinas, California, where she lived among such inspirations as Robert Creeley and Joanne Kyger. Her work has been included in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, Social Anarchism, and Chiron Review. She was the 2013-2014 Belfast Poet Laureate.

David Sloan is a graduate of USM’s Stonecoast MFA Poetry Program and teaches in Maine’s only Waldorf high school. His debut poetry collection — The Irresistible In-Between — was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2013. He received the 2012 Betsy Sholl and Maine Literary awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has won the Goodreads monthly contest twice, in April, 2012 and December, 2013.

Karin Spitfire, author of Standing with Trees and the chapbook Wild Caught, was Poet Laureate of Belfast in 2007-2008. She has been performing, writing and raising consciousness thru art since 1969.

Toussaint St. Negritude, Jazz poet, Maine coast resident, and current Belfast Poet Laureate, conjures all crossroads of folk, blues, and the Afro-Atlantic experience via the lone-road elegance of his bass clarinet and the alpine declarations of a voice well worth the view. A west coast native, Toussaint is a proud product of revolution-era San Francisco, having been raised and informed by the triumphs of every left-local movement from the Panthers to Queer Rights.

Brian Dyer Stewart has recorded five CDs of original music, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other musicians. He has been writing songs and performing for more than 40 years, as a pianist, guitarist and vocalist. He is also a poet and is working on a new collection about time and intention. Brian lives with his wife, Pam, in Harrington, Maine where they raised their four children.

Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist, translator, and editor, and author of multiple books, including Birdwatching in Wartime, winner of both the Maine Book Award and ASLE Award. He has three books forthcoming: The Complete Poems of Catullus; Fragile, a memoir; and The Belfast Notebooks. He was Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre and the Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow. He is professor of creative writing at the University of Maine in Farmington.

Mike Whitehead is a first call trumpeter and owner/operator of Kat Trax Recording in Thomaston, Maine. His album Habitat is available through Band Camp, and he is the leader of the Mike Whitehead Group, People of Earth, and a frequent sideman with local pickup groups. Mike teaches at the Bay Chamber Schools.

Alisha Wormsley uses photography, video, sculpture, and sound to deconstruct accepted realities in order to recreate new conceptual mythologies. By layering methods of science fiction, collage theory, and folklore, she reconstructs stories, examining themes of gender, class, race and time. Her work has led her throughout the world; collecting stories, researching cultures, participating in myth and ceremony. She collaborates with artists, communities, students, landscapes and history. She holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and studied photography and digital media from the International Center of Photography in New York.

2015 Workshops

The 2015 Belfast Poetry Festival is pleased to present various workshops during the morning of Saturday, October 17 from 10 AM - 12:30 PM. This year’s workshops presenters are Annaliese Jakimides, Lady Zen, and guest celebrity poet Elizabeth Gordon McKim. Stay tuned for more details.

All workshops are $25 per person, and preregistration is required, as attendance is limited.
For 2015, all workshops are free to high school and college students, though preregistration is still required. If you are a student, you may register by emailing Jacob Fricke the school you attend and the workshops you’d like to take.

Please send $25 checks, made payable to “Belfast Free Library,” to:
Jacob Fricke
Belfast Poetry Festival
P.O. Box 911
Belfast, ME 04915

2015 Belfast Peotry Festival Workships


Elizabeth Gordon McKim | 10 am - 12:30 pm
Belfast Free Library, Abbott Rm

This stone you hold in your hand/ let it go

Like a long song/ or a tiny haiku note/ or a long gone free verse /that growls in your throat/ or a little waltz on its way/to compassion or kick out the jambs passion/ a way to find a visual/verbal frame/and a tone wild or tame/ A ballad or the blues/ today a chance To play the poetry game true/ to dance some words/ to trace your life/ and times / to begin/to sound the stone/and find your poem…

An experiential Multi-Arts Workshop with Poet-Teacher Elizabeth Gordon McKim. A warm welcome to poetry people of all ages and experience.

Elizabeth Gordon McKim has published five books of poetry, the latest being The Red Thread (Leapfrog Press). She is a teacher, performance poet, and spoken word artist, and has been an adjunct professor for forty years in the department of Creative Arts in Learning at Lesley University. McKim is the poet laureate of the European Graduate School, and the Jazz Poet of Lynn, Massachusetts. She is Poetry Editor of the international journal POIESIS published in Toronto, Canada. Elizabeth has worked all over the U.S. helping teachers to weave poetry into the daily life and curriculum of their classrooms, and she teaches from a multi-arts trans-cultural perspective.

2015 Belfast Peotry Festival Workships


Annaliese Jakimides | 10 am – 12:30 pm

To create our best work (and selves!) we must accept uncertainty and take leap after leap in the dark. This workshop will require us to do both. Think, open a portal to a larger experiential universe. Think, give up control. Come with 2 copies of a poem you have written and 2 of a poem with which you have emotional resonance—love, hate, admiration, disgust…something.

We will discuss, question, explore, and, most importantly, begin new work. We are looking to find/create the energy in the poem. If there is no energy, there is no poem, no matter what you see on the page-or what you “think.” And if you disagree, come anyway. Ha! What fun this will be.

If you’re going to walk on thin ice, why not dance? —Boston Teran

If you’re not moving into the unknown, why bother? —paraphrase of something an artist whose name I can’t remember.

You got to figure out which end of the needle you gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth. —Sue Monk Kidd

2015 Belfast Peotry Festival Workships


Belfast Poet Laureate Toussaint St. Negritude | 10 am - 12:30 pm

The mission for this workshop is to further explore the appreciation of Queer voices in poetry, through selected readings and writing assignments, both for Queer and non-Queer poets and readers. This workshop welcomes all genders, particularly ones less heard locally, such as from gay male and trans queer voices.





2015 Belfast Peotry Festival Workships

Expanding Your Reach Through Collaboration

Lady Zen | 10 am – 12:30 pm

For over 35 years I have been a professional performer. As I developed and trained as a vocalist and musician the more I wrote. The more I studied and wrote poetry the more I knew I wanted to practice poetry over being a musician.

Lyric poetic is the only art that combined my passion for music and poetry, so, I’ve branded my work as—Lyric Fusion Poetry. In other words, I create, compose, consult, teach, and direct collaborative lyric poems into works of lyric fusion poetry.

These works are most often accompanied by music but I have expanded into theater, film and photography. Simply put—I’m a poet who lives on and off the page as an entertainment artist. Every genera grows through stages as technology grows making access to art that more commonplace. I believe there is a resurgence of lyric poetics in our current culture, because of its entertainment value.

As technology has made connection, goods and services, and information ample supply—we have been flung into cultural evolution. But what information consumes is attention. Out of this attention deficit, lyric poetry has been on the rise in popularity for its sophisticated use of tone, rhythm and harmony.

In my workshop, I am going to share with you my secrets to success as a lyric poet through collaboration study with other artists, poets, and musicians; how to use social media to your advantage and how to improve your overall presence when doing public readings.

Lady Zen (aka; Alzenira Quezada) is an internationally known lyric fusion poet who was recently published in Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters. She spoke and performed at the 2014 TEDxDirigo: Mavericks and Misfits, was listed third on the 100 Most Stylish dapper Qs of 2014 and appeared alongside actress Glen Close for the Maine Center for Creativity Industries Awards. Her work has been featured at the Bi-Annual Butch Voices Conference, The Institute for Civic Leadership 20th Anniversary Gala, Creative Portland: Portland Framed Art Event and the NAACP MLK Day Celebration. She was awarded a J. William Fulbright Scholarship in Opera Performance through the University of Arkansas and a Community Service/Social Justice award through the University of Southern Maine and received her MFA in creative writing in 2014, studying with renowned poets such as Carol Ann Duffy, Kevin Young, Jennifer Clement, Francine Ringold, and Annie Finch. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Trans Youth Equality Foundation and TransWorld Health Organization teaching first year med students to better understand the medical needs of trans identified individuals. She travels extensively and currently lives in Portland, Maine with her fiancée.

Gallery Hunt 2015

Our unique festival scavenger-hunt styled showcase of Maine Postmark Poetry Competition winners!

Enjoy the profusion of Belfast’s downtown art gallery exhibitions and take in the first prize poem and the 9 other finalists at your own pace as part of the 11th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival.

During the month of October and up until the end of the Festival, Saturday, October 17, the ten finalist poems from the 2015 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest will be on display in Belfast art galleries.

Here’s a sample of the 2014 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest winners, and the galleries that displayed their winning poems:

Kramer Gallery, Belfast Free Library,
Mill, Kristen Lindquist, Camden
1st Place Poem [pdf]

Fresh Cup Gallery, 33 Main Street,
No One Said Goodbye, Arnold Greenberg, Blue Hill
2nd Place Poem [pdf]

Daniel Anselmi, 75 Main St, Upstairs,
Feral, Mary Dowd, Yarmouth
3rd Place Poem [pdf]

Belfast Framer & Betts Gallery, 96 Main St., behind Yo Mama’s,
Attainment, Kathryn Robyn, Belfast
Honorable Mention Poem [pdf]

2015 Participating Addresses

Downtown Belfast Maine

The Belfast Free Library
106 High Street, Belfast, Maine
Website »

The Colonial Theatre
163 High Street, Belfast, Maine
Website »

Location Map


2015 Festival Supporters

Support for the Belfast Poetry Festival from the following sponsors is greatly appreciated, and makes this free, community-driven event possible.

Off the Coast
Maine Humanities Council
City of Belfast
Front Street Shipyard
Belfast Poet Laureate
The Belfast Co-op
Belfast Free Library
Waterfall Arts
Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance


  • Off The Coast
  • Maine Humanities
  • City of Belfast
  • Front Street Shipyard
  • Belfast Free Library
  • Waterfall Arts Center
  • WERU
  • Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance


Love poetry, art & music? Want to be a part of the 2015 weekend activities? Why not volunteer? It’s a great way to contribute to a unique occasion and meet people.

Contact us and tell us how you would like to help.

Contact Us

For questions, suggestions, or general info please feel free to contact us.

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