Bar Harbor, Maine — Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia have announced the appointment of Christian Barter of Bar Harbor, Maine, as the park’s first poet laureate. He will serve in the honorary post throughout 2016, the centennial year of both Acadia and the National Park Service.
“We are grateful to Chris Barter for accepting the responsibilities of poet laureate,” said Mike Madell, Acadia’s acting superintendent. “He is not only a published poet of distinction, but also a respected work supervisor on the park’s professional trail crew.”
David MacDonald, president and CEO of Friends of Acadia, said, “Chris Barter’s poems and trails are works of art that provide us access and insight into Acadia National Park and the wonders of the natural world. There is no better person to help Maine and the nation celebrate Acadia and its 100-year history.”
Madell and MacDonald said the laureate’s duties may include composing poetry that celebrates the park, readings at select events in Maine, and leading trail walks to discuss the influence of the natural scene on his poetry and how reading and writing poems have affected his trail building.
“It’s an honor to be chosen for this position,” said Barter, “My work includes natural themes, but also centers on personal relationships and other human interactions. I look forward to the year ahead.”
“Barter is an ideal choice to be Acadia’s first poet laureate,” said Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, poet and board president of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (mainewriters.org), based in Portland. “Few poets embody the place and spirit of Maine in general and of the park in particular in the way he does.”
Christian Barter’s first book, The Singers I Prefer, was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize, Academy of American Poets; his second, In Someone Else’s House, from BkMk Press, was the 2014 winner of the Maine Literary Award for Poetry; a third volume is forthcoming from BOA Editions. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Georgia Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Friends of Acadia Journal (of which he served as poetry editor) and other magazines, and been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The PBS NewsHour, and The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.
A graduate of Bates College in music composition, Barter also earned an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He held the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University and was a fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. A former editor for The Beloit Poetry Journal and sometime teacher at College of the Atlantic, his primary occupation is as a work supervisor for the Acadia National Park Trail Crew.
MacDonald thanked the Acadia Centennial Task Force for initiating the laureate project. Co-chaired by Cookie Horner and Jack Russell, the group comprises Friends of Acadia volunteers and staff, Acadia National Park professionals and Mount Island community members. Its website, acadiacentennial2016.org, lists more than 200 partner organizations and their centennial projects, along with a growing calendar of events.
Officials said it is not known whether other national parks have had a poet laureate.
Photo: Christian Barter, First Poet Laureate of Acadia National Park. Photo by Ann Arbor.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, January 25, 2016
CONTACT: Aimee Beal Church, Communications Director, Friends of Acadia 207-288-3340. John Kelly, Management Assistant, Acadia National Park, 207-288-8703. Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Board President, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, 207-272-8627.