by Dan Habib
Wes McNair has been a friend to this magazine for nearly two decades, and was most recently our honored guest at the Aiken Taylor events honoring his mentor, Donald Hall. And now we've just heard that Governor LePage of Maine has appointed McNair to be Maine's Poet Laureate—an honor befitting this true poet of place. As Hall says, "Wes McNair is a New England poet, preserving the speech and character of a region intimately known. Because he is a true poet, his New England is unlimited." Apparently, McNair is not taking this laureateship lightly: "Our state needs something more than a ceremonial spokesman for poetry and literature. I will be an engaged and active laureate. At a time in our politics when the value of art itself seems to be in play, I intend to play harder." Through a long teaching career at Colby-Sawyer College, Colby College (who now has his papers), and the University of Maine at Farmington, where he started and directed the creative writing program, McNair has had a profound effect on countless readers and writers. He will continue this outreach as poet laureate, "by putting poetry directly into the laps and laptops of readers everywhere around us . . . we'll remind our fellow Mainers that poetry is not only for the special days of weddings, funerals, and commencements, but for every day of our lives." Given his recent invitation to read at the Library of Congress, it appears McNair's laureateship has already produced positive results. Click here to read his acceptance speech and more of his "itinerary" as the new conductor of the poetry train. Wesley McNair's new and selected, Lovers of the Lost, was published last year by David R. Godine publishers, and we are lucky to have some of his poetry in our current summer issue.
And just as a postscript, we'd like to remind our readers that around this time last year, another longtime contributor (and advisory editor), David Mason, was named Poet Laureate of Colorado. Maybe we should get a map for the office and start putting in thumbtacks!