University of Maine at Farmington Announces Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair as 2012 Commencement Speaker

FARMINGTON, ME (April 23, 2012)—Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate and University of Maine at Farmington professor emeritus and writer in residence, will deliver the commencement address at UMF’s Commencement ceremonies celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 12, at an outdoor ceremony on the UMF campus.Wes McNair

Regarded by U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine as, “one of the great storytellers of contemporary poetry,” McNair was appointed by Maine Governor Paul LePage to a five-year term as Maine Poet Laureate in 2011. The author of nine volumes of poems, including “Lovers of the Lost: New and Selected Poems,” he has held grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, two Rockefeller Fellowships, two grants in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts and an Emmy Award.

McNair has been invited twice to read his poetry by the Library of Congress, served as a guest editor in poetry for the 2010 Pushcart Prize anthology and has served four times on the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. In 2006, he was selected for a United States Artists Fellowship as one of “America’s finest living artists.” The recipient of numerous prizes for his poetry, McNair’s many honors include the Robert Frost Prize, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book, the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal for “distinguished contribution to the world of letters” and three honorary degrees.

At UMF, he directed the creative writing program and shared his love of poetry with his students, colleagues and the wider community. In addition, he was instrumental in inviting Alice James Books, an award-winning poetry press, to take up residence at UMF. McNair was the recipient of both the UMF Distinguished Faculty Award and the Libra Professorship and currently serves as a guest faculty member for UMF’s Longfellow Mountains Young Writers summer workshop

The University will award honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters to McNair and Seth Wescott, American snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist. Wescott, a U.S. Snowboarding Team veteran who was raised in Farmington and currently resides in Sugarloaf helped to develop interest in the sport of Snowboard cross in the U.S. and on an international level.  He was instrumental in having it included in the 2006 Winter Olympics and currently holds the only two Snowboardcross Olympic gold medals ever awarded.

Merissa “Moe” Beaulieu, graduating senior from Monmouth, will give the student address. At UMF she majored in secondary education with a concentration in English. During her four years in Farmington she was employed in the Admission office, was a varsity golfer and studied abroad in Krakow, Poland. She will be going back to Poland this summer to volunteer with youth groups at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Education Center. When she returns, she looks forward to student teaching and working toward her ultimate life goal—being the first UMF grad to summit Mount Everest.

Theodora J. Kalikow, UMF president, and Daniel P. Gunn, vice president for academic affairs, will confer degrees to this year’s graduates. Marjorie Murray Medd, member of the UMS Board of Trustees, will deliver greetings to the graduates from the University of Maine System.

Additional Event Details

The outdoor ceremony will be held behind the UMF Olsen Student Center and is free and open to the public. However, in case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the UMF Fitness & Recreation Center. Admission to the indoor ceremony will be limited to those who have already received “Fitness and Recreation Center” tickets. Guests of graduates are also welcome to watch the ceremony live over closed-circuit television in classrooms in the UMF Education Center and in Lincoln Auditorium and C23, located in the UMF Roberts Learning Center. The UMF Commencement ceremony will be broadcast live on Mount Blue TV community access Channel 11, whether the ceremony is held indoors or outdoors. DVDs of the ceremony will be available in early summer for a small fee from the UMF Ferro Alumni Center, which can be contacted at 207-778-7090.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Photo can be found at

Photo Credit: Submitted photo