LEWISTON — Lewiston’s Franco-American Collection is hosting poet Steven Riel on Monday, Feb. 24. Riel is the third featured writer of the FAC’s five Meet-A-Franco-Author programs being offered free to the area’s Francophiles and lovers of fine writing in 2019-2020. Writers in the program series, Franco-America at the Interstice of Identities, explore the conjunction of their Franco identity with another identity that is also important to them.

Lewiston’s Franco-American Collection is hosting poet Steven Riel on Monday, Feb. 24. Riel is the third featured writer of the FAC’s five Meet-A-Franco-Author programs being offered free to the area’s Francophiles and lovers of fine writing in 2019-2020. Submitted photo

“Steven Riel writes implicated poetry that features both his Franco heritage and his gay identity,” according to Franco-American Collection Program Chair and Board Member Denis Ledoux. “His poems give voice to the Franco-American community of his childhood, its narrative of survival and assimilation, and its uncomfortable relationship to homosexuality. His work also honors and attends closely to the history and culture of both communities that have shaped him and continue to shape him.”

Raised in Monson, Massachusetts, Riel received an AB in English from Georgetown University and an MLS from Simmons College. He is the author of one full-length collection of poetry, “Fellow Odd Fellow,” as well as three chapbooks, including most recently, “Postcard from P-town,” which was selected as runner-up for the inaugural Robin Becker Chapbook Prize.

His poems have appeared in several anthologies, including “Lives in Translation” and in numerous periodicals, including The Minnesota Review and International Poetry Review. The Lambda Literary Foundation selected him as a 2016 Fellow. Poetry editor of RFD Magazine from 1987 to 1995, he serves as editor-in-chief of the Franco-American literary e-journal Résonance. He received an MFA in poetry from New England College where he was the recipient of a Joel Oppenheimer Scholarship and was the 2005 Robert Fraser Distinguished Visiting Poet at Bucks County (PA) Community College.

Ledoux said, “Our Meet-A-Franco-Author programs depart from previous Franco-American Collection curatorial focus. With this series, the FAC steps into the creative present all the while continuing to maintain and enhance our role as keepers of Franco stories for future generations.”

“We have built in a Q-and-A session into this series,” said Ledoux, “so that the audience will have time to engage in conversation with Steven Riel about his experience as a Franco and as a gay man.”

The Meet-A-Franco-Author programs are free, due to a grant from the Québec Delegation in Boston, and are open to the public — Franco-Americans and Francophiles alike. Members of the FAC are invited to attend a prereading reception with the author. For information on becoming a member, contact the office at 207-753-6545.

All programs will be held at 7 p.m. Mondays in Room 170 at Lewiston-Auburn College of the University of Southern Maine, Westminster Street.

For the subsequent program, scheduled for Mach 23, the FAC will present Maine fiction writer Ron Currie Jr. Historian David Vermette will present on April 27. Vermette was born in Massachusetts and has family roots in Brunswick.


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