S3-EP17: Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum on Love, Loss and Celebrating the Ordinary
Debbie talks with Maine’s Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum about loss, love, life, creativity, and the importance of celebrating the ordinary moment.
Today, Debbie Weil talks to Maine’s Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum. Whether or not you’re a fan of reading or writing poetry, you won’t want to miss this episode. Stuart tells stories in his soothing, often humorous style, including what led him to decide to become a poet and how he fell in love with Maine. They talk about listening to poems read aloud and how that slows time down and creates a moment of community. They also talk about his process of discovery when he is writing poems.
The topics they touch on: community and connection, love and loss, grief and creativity are relevant to this pandemic gap year.
Stuart is the author of five collections of poems, most recently Things Seemed to Be Breaking (Deerbrook Editions 2021), and a collection of essays The View from Here (Brynmorgen Press). He was the director of the internationally renowned Haystack Mountain School of Crafts from 1988 until 2015. He was the host of Maine Public Radio’s popular program Poems from Here, where each week he read aloud a poem by a Maine author. He hosted/curated the podcast Make/Time and he is the host/curator of a soon-to-be-released podcast, Voices of the Future, a series of conversations with a dozen young Maine writers about their writing and their lives. This 12-episode podcast is his last project as Maine’s Poet Laureate as his five-year tenure, sadly, is coming to an end in 2021.
He also reads two of his poems on this episode, including one of Debbie’s favorites, Starting the Subaru at Five Below. As former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has written: “Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read, heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life. No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but life, pure life, set down with craft and love.”
See below for links to Stuart’s poetry collections, his podcasts, stage performances and more. He writes and speaks widely on craft-making and creativity. His poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines including Tikkun, The Sun, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and on the Writer’s Almanac and American Life in Poetry.
This was a wonderful conversation.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Stuart Kestenbaum
- Poems from Here with Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum, on Maine Public Radio
- For final project, Maine poet laureate puts out podcast featuring young writers by Bob Keyes, Portland Press-Herald, March 7, 2021
- Words of Gratitude From Maine, New York Times, Nov. 25, 2020
- Make/Time Podcast
- Starting the Subaru at Five Below by Stuart Kestenbaum
- Amen, Stuart’s poem selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the New York Times, Jan. 2, 2020
- Sometime during eternity… by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
- Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
- Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking by Walt Whitman
- Professor Fred Wagner
- Stuart Kestenbaum’s talk at Maine Live about his brother Howard who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11
- Susan Webster: Stuart’s wife and collaborator on art & writing:
- Long Lake, Naples, Maine
- Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
- Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
- The Telling Room, Portland, Maine
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Thanks to our media partners
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