Belfast Poet Laureate

Belfast Poet Laureate, Position, Policy and Process

1. The City of Belfast appoints an honorary position of Belfast Poet Laureate
2. This is an unfunded position with no allowed expenses, except the Poet Laureate may choose to have business cards printed at the city’s expense, and may apply for grants that benefit the community.
3. The title of Poet Laureate may be used after the poet’s name for literary uses, i.e. on books, posters, and resumes but not for commercial enterprises.
4. The job description is as follows which may be used for the posting of the position.

Qualifications: Be Belfastian, a clever, productive, thoughtful, colorful, and a well worded poet to express and convey a poet’s vision of Belfast. This is your chance to combine art with public service. The Poet Laureate is expected to organize poetry activities, and to serve on the Steering Committee of the annual Belfast Poetry Festival. Be prepared to be stopped on the street to answer deep questions about poetry. Maintain a welcoming atmosphere for both emerging and established poets. Be the “public poet” of Belfast, the Biggest Little Poetry Town in Maine.

5. Poet Laureate applicants must be a resident of Waldo County.
6. The term is to run two years, beginning on New Year’s Day, (unless circumstances require a different date.) The position ends on December 31 two years later.
7. The process of appointing the next Poet Laureate is as follows. A Poet Laureate Committee will be approved by the City Council that includes: a representative from the City Council, a non-serving previous Poet Laureate, a member of the library, a member of the arts and literature community. The committee will post a job description asking for applications and/or nominations. Applicants or nominated poets are asked to send a one-page letter listing qualifications and vision for performing the duties of the Belfast Poet Laureate and attach a copy of one Belfast-oriented poem. The Poet Laureate Committee will review the applications/nominations and choose a Poet Laureate nominee. The nominee will then be presented to the City Council for consideration at their next meeting date.
8. City Council shall appoint a new Poet Laureate before the term of the outgoing Poet Laureate expires (when possible.)
9. The leaving Poet Laureate may choose to give a State of Poetry address to the City Council.
10. There will be a poetry reading to honor the naming of the new Belfast Poet Laureate on New Years Eve (or at another date).

Respectfully submitted: Elizabeth W Garber, past Belfast Poet Laureate, chair for the 2011 Belfast Poet Laureate Committee comprised of: Roger Lee, Belfast City Council representative; Denise Pendleton, life-long Belfast resident and staff at the Maine Humanities Council; John Bielenberg Senior from the performing arts community; Brenda Harrington, Belfast Free Library; and Joshua Bodwell, Executive Director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.
(Revision of the previous Poet Laureate Document June 19, 2007)

2023 Poet Laureate-Maya Stein BiographyPhoto Credit Freyja Grey

(Photo Credit: Freyja Grey)

Maya Stein is a Ninja poet, writing guide, and creative adventuress. At nearly 9 years old, she’d earned perfect scores on her spelling test 6 weeks in a row, an accomplishment noted by her teacher at Wenonah Elementary in Waynesboro, Virginia, and had discovered—for reasons unknown to her still—an aptitude for math that landed her in a class in the grade above with her sister Mikhal (who wasn’t especially pleased about it). She also wrote her first poem, called “Papa Tree and the Seasons,” which she illustrated and bound into a book. Other highlights from that year include watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and being totally freaked out the next morning by a small gathering of crows on a nearby light pole, an obsession with Saturday morning cartoons and the discovery of two other TV shows—Charlie’s Angels and The Incredible Hulk—that figured significantly into her playdates—and the arrival of her baby brother, Adam, to whom she begrudgingly sanctioned the occupancy of an upstairs bedroom across the hall from hers.

Forty-one years later, Maya is living in Northport, Maine in a house named Toad Hall with her artist wife, Amy Tingle, who serves as Program Director at Waterfall Arts. How can one summarize Maya's past 4 decades in a single paragraph? Impossible. But perhaps it is enough to say that she can still solve mid-level math problems if needed, that conglomerations of birds still make her slightly uneasy, that the feeling of flexing her muscles (however puny) can still make her feel like she could lift a car of off train tracks if she had to, that she loves her siblings fiercely, and that poetry persists in claiming a great deal of her attention. She has kept a weekly short-form poetry practice, “10-line Tuesday,” since 2005, has written a handful of books, facilitates writing classes, is a stepmom to two incredible young men, and is trying to follow May Sarton’s words of wisdom: “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” 

She can be reached at