UMF welcomes Maine’s newest Poet Laureate to Creative Writing Dept

By: Jessica Gervais, Contributing Writer

FARMINGTON – The University of Maine at Farmington recently welcomed Julia Bouwsma as the new professor of creative writing; Bouwsma also had the honor of being named Maine’s Poet Laureate earlier this summer.

Bouwsma has been writing poetry since she was in the third grade.

“I tell people I either wanted to be a poet or a pirate…I really liked pirates,” Bouwsma said.

Penelope Lawrence, a family friend and professor at Yale who came to her elementary school and volunteered to teach a class, was a huge influence who started her off on her writing career. Lawrence would take ‘adult poems’ as opposed to children’s poems and teach the kids about them, the students then memorized poems and got prompts they had to write about, according to Bouwsma.

It would seem that Bouwsma has always held a wild and free-running imagination right from the very early beginning.

“Poetry was sort of my first love with writing and it still is,” she said.

Because Bouwsma was only just recently elected as Maine’s Poet Laureate she said she is listening and learning every single day to find out more of what the title means, however she has plenty of ideas of how to utilize the title on her own.

To her being Maine’s Poet Laureate means more opportunity to know fellow Maine poets and work with them to expand Maine’s poet community. Bouwsma said she’s in the “throwing mashed potatoes at the ceiling to see what sticks” stage of her journey as a poet laureate. She expressed that she has many project ideas and just isn’t yet ready to share them. Although she did share that throughout her five-year term she plans to find other poets to collaborate with.

“I always think more minds are better than just mine.”

She explained that Maine is a wide state with very many different broad communities, there are plenty of chances to grow the poetry community. Teaching poetry is really important to her and she hopes to help grow connections between poets and the public, private, and home-school systems to further expand these connections.