LEWISTON — The Gallery at LA Arts will host the first of its monthly Poetry & Conversations, Blue Collar Daughters, from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at 221 Lisbon St. Poets Claire Hersom, Judith Robbins and Susann Pelletier will read and talk about their unlikely paths to writing and activism. Refreshments will be available. All are welcome and there is a $4 suggested donation.

Hersom is a native Mainer who lives in Winthrop. She often writes about the hardscrabble life of working Mainers, as her Irish family for decades shared in the history of mill workers. Raising three children as a single parent with a low income job, informs her writing, her politics and her sense of humanity.

She is published by Moon Pie Press, Westbrook: “Drowning: A Poetic Memoir,” 2008, and “Dreamscape,” 2017. Her work appears in several poetry journals, including “Yankee Magazine. In 2011, she received an Emerging Artist Grant in Literature from Boston’s St. Botolph Club Foundation.

A strong advocate for social justice, Hersom served for four years on the board of directors for Maine Equal Justice Partners. She teaches ELL and high school English at Winthrop Adult Education. She is an organizer for the Hallowell poetry venue, The Bookey Readings at the Harlow.

A graduate of Bates College and Harvard Divinity School, Robbins has been writing poetry all her life. She and her husband, Jon Robbins, migrated north to Maine 50 years ago from Worcester, Massachusetts, where they were both newspaper reporters.

Her first collection of poems, “The North End,” recalls the experience of growing up in a working-class urban neighborhood in the ‘40s and ‘50s; and while the second collection, “The Bookbinder’s Wife,” includes more poems from the North End of Worcester, it primarily reflects the life of a woman in late 20th-century America finding and making meaning.

Pelletier’s poems give voice to family and place in Franco-America and to a vision of social justice at home and beyond the borders. Her work has been published here and abroad in anthologies, literary journals, chapbooks and political magazines.

Recently, her poems appeared in the anthologies “Fierce with Reality, Literature on Aging” and “Heliotrope—French Heritage Women Create,” and Lewiston Sun Journal’s In Verse: Maine Places and People. She’s worked as a college instructor, journalist, editorial consultant, writing specialist/tutor and co-editor of a progressive monthly.

A pacifist, Pelletier is committed to nonviolent social change. She is a longtime volunteer with Maine People’s Alliance and served on its board for a decade. As a board member of L/A Arts, she coordinates its Maine Writes programs in the schools and community.

Claire Hersom

Susann Pelletier

Judith Robbins


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