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Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry
The Maine State Library has partnered with with the State's Poet Laureate, Wesley McNair, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance in the initiative, Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry.
Each week McNair offers one previously published poem by a Maine poet. McNair selects each poem and writes a brief introduction about the poet's background and connection to Maine, and the history, context, or themes of the poem.
Poem for the week of January 26, 2014
Splitting Wood in Winter
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
In today’s poem, Douglas Woodsum of Smithfield offers advice to Mainers about how to split stove wood.
Splitting Wood In Winter by Douglas Woodsum
You’ll need a barn with a big door, the old- fashioned kind that hangs on wheels, slides open down a track. You’ll need a bare bulb, the sun having sunk before your return from work. You’ll need a splitting maul (the ax always gets stuck), a medieval weapon perfect for pillaging heat from the heart of hardwood. You can plug in the portable radio or just listen to the hush of the swing, then thwack…or thoonk, the soft clinks or cloonks of the splits falling from the chopping block onto the old, thick, scarred floorboards of the barn. You’ll need your hands to rip apart pieces still connected by strips of unsplit wood. You’ll need to load the canvas carrier thrice, enough to survive the dead of night. You won’t need reminding, “Splitting wood warms you twice: once chopping it, once burning it.” You’ll smile walking through the cold, back to the house, your hot breath a harbinger of wood smoke.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 Douglas Woodsum. Reprinted from The Lawns of Lobsterman, Moon Pie Press, by permission of Douglas Woodsum. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at email@example.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.
Addresses by Wesley McNair
The files below require the free Adobe Reader.
- 4th Annual Address 2014
- 3rd Annual Address 2013
- 2nd Annual Address 2012
- 2011 National Book Festival
- The Remarks of Maine Poet Laureate, Wesley McNair from April 2011 as a newly appointed Poet Laureate.
Wesley McNair is the fourth Maine Poet Laureate. He has published eight books of poetry and two limited editions. The author of three volumes of nonfiction he has also edited six anthologies of Maine writing, including four that feature Maine poetry. Few authors are as well versed in the history of Maine poetry or the work of Maine's contemporary poets as Wesley McNair.