Events downtown

Jun 19

Juneteenth: Poems of Reckoning & Resilience
Location: 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine 04101, US
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event website

Please join the MWPA and the Portland Museum of Art as we honor the legacy and ongoing transformative force of Black America’s creativity, transcendency, and liberation in a Juneteenth poetry reading. Two well-loved local poets and Ashley Bryan Fellows, Bates College Professor Ian-Khara Ellasante and Portland’s Poet Laureate Maya Williams, will share their wisdom and wonder, and then our featured poet Nathan McClain will share his unflinching and lyrical work.

Multi-award winning poet John Murillo says, “Nathan McClain’s Previously Owned is no-nonsense, meat and potatoes, good gotdam poetry,” and Publisher Weekly calls McClain’s first book, Scale, “atmospheric and graceful in its depiction of the steady ache that comes when absence permeates a life.”

The reading is free and will take place in the Great Hall at the Portland Museum of Art.

Authors include:
Nathan McClain is a poet, editor, and educator living in Amherst, Massachusetts. He is the author of Scale (Four Way Books, 2017) and Previously Owned (Four Way Books, 2022), and his poems and prose have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in Poetry Northwest, Green Mountains Review, Poem-a-Day, The Common, The Critical Flame, and upstreet, among others. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and African American Literary Arts at Hampshire College, and serves as Poetry Editor of The Massachusetts Review.

Maya Williams (ey/em, they/them, and she/her) is a religious Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently an Ashley Bryan Fellow and the seventh Poet Laureate of Portland, Maine . Maya’s debut poetry collection, Judas & Suicide, is available through Game Over Books. And Maya’s second poetry collection, Refused a Second Date, is available through Harbor Editions. She graduated with a community practice-focused Masters in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social Justice at the University of New England in May 2018. She graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts for Creative Writing with a Focus in Poetry at Randolph College in June 2022.

Ian-Khara Ellasante (they/them) is a Black, queer, trans-nonbinary parent, partner, poet, and cultural studies scholar. Ian-Khara’s poetry has been published in We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, Pipe Wrench, The Feminist Wire, Nat. Brut, Hinchas de Poesía, The Volta, Writing the Land: Maine, and From Root to Seed: Black, Brown, and Indigenous Writers Write the Northeast (forthcoming). Ian-Khara is a VONA alum whose awards and honors include the 2023 Cave Canem Fellowship, the New Millennium Award for Poetry, the Ashley Bryan Fellowship, and the Point Foundation Scholarship. Their critical writing, including the essay “Dear Trans Studies, Can You Do Love?,” has appeared in Transgender Studies Quarterly, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Families in Society. Proudly hailing from Memphis, Ian-Khara has also loved living and writing in Tucson, Brooklyn, and most recently, in southern Maine, where they teach Gender and Sexuality Studies and Africana at Bates College.