Traditionally, the poet laureate of Maine has been invited to deliver a poem at the governor’s inauguration, but this year, due to budget constraints, poetry was dropped from the program. So Betsy Sholl, the current laureate, staged a protest:

Sholl and about fifty other members from across Maine's arts community descended upon Longfellow Square in Portland at the same time as Governor Paul LePage's inauguration. Standing in the shadow of Maine's best known poet, they read and recited poems as a way to send a message that the arts are an important part of the state, and a big draw for visitors and residents alike.

At a time when the arts are viewed by some politicians as a waste of money, it’s nice to see a community effort to highlight the importance of artistic production to the larger culture:

Once we saw the poetry piece was removed from the inauguration, we decided to do something at the same time to celebrate and put the focus back on poetry," explained Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. "The value of poetry and poets is not a monetary value, so I can't imagine it was a big budget item to have poetry. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that we need to celebrate things, because life is so busy."

Originally Published: January 6th, 2011