NEW VINEYARD — Wesley McNair, the poet laureate of Maine, will share the story of how he developed as a poet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at the New Vineyard Public Library.
“People might be surprised that I didn’t have a literary background at all. I started out in poverty and a broken home, and there were many detours along my way to becoming a poet,” said McNair.
He will also read from his previous collections and newly released poetry collection “The Lost Child: Ozark Poems.” The new poetry collection represents a departure for McNair, whose poetry typically describes New England. In his new work, he takes another path, writing about his mother’s homeplace in the Ozarks of southern Missouri.
“My mother was always tight-lipped about her feelings, and I wanted to know her more deeply by exploring the hill country where she grew up during the Dust Bowl period,” he said, adding, “There are poems about her, too, woven all through it.”
When he began writing, his mother had been admitted to an acute care center with only a few months to live, and by the time he completed it, she died.
“The poems were inspired by the grief I felt and the need to reconcile with her,” he said. “But after her death, I also wrote to remember her. I’ve never written any book of poems that goes this deeply into family feelings.”
McNair has been invited twice to read his poems by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and has won numerous awards for his poetry over the years, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships, awards from some of the country’s finest literary magazines and a United States Artists Fellowship as one of America’s “finest living artists.”
At the event, he will not only read his newest poetry, but explain how the collection evolved and how its poems have affected him.