A Look at Writers in Maine

Illaria Dana, Education Major

The Lewis Gallery in the Portland Public Library is hosting an exhibit called the Maine Literary

Portrait Project from October 1st through November 1st. The project is the work of photographer Doug

Bruns. He captured fifty Maine writers in their workspaces. Their photographs are mounted with excerpts

from their poems, short stories, novels and memoirs. Bruns told the Portland Press Herald that, “[The

project] started with the motivation of needing something to do, and logically, as a reader, I thought of all

the writers I admire who live in Maine.”

The exhibit includes Megan Grumbling, professor at SMCC. Her collection of poetry, Booker’s

Point, received the Vassar Miller Prize for poetry and is being published by the University of North Texas

Press in 2016. She was one of three readers at the reception for the exhibit on Friday, October 16th.

Ms. Grumbling spoke about her experience in the project. She said, “I was thrilled when Bruns

asked me to take part in the project. I knew immediately where we would shoot: my summer writing work

has long been at either Crescent or Willard Beach- I pack up all my drafts into folders and clipboards,

plus some binder clips to keep things from blowing too much, and hop on my bike. All day I can interrupt

work for a mind-clearing jump into the waves.

“I think it’s a remarkable service to the writing community, a testimony to the richness and

character of its many writers, and an opportunity to celebrate our friendships and connections within the

writing community.

“Between those gifts [of community] and the natural beauty of where we live – I can walk out of

class and jump into the ocean! – there’s no place I’d rather live and write.”

As Bruns stated, this project was not only a way to explore and expose the creativity found in

Maine. It was a journey of personal expression that allowed him to get to know himself.

Reading is a form of art – of expression – for readers who are enabled to explore aspects of

themselves as they are mirrored through the works before them. Patrons of the exhibit are greeted by the

faces of many writers, their words, and encouraged to find their own means of expression. The faces of

living people creating in Maine seem to say, “You can do this too.”


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