WESLEY McNAIR was born 19 June 1941 in Newport N.H. He received a B.A. degree (English) from Keene State College in 1963; an M.A. degree (English) from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, in 1968; and an advanced master’s degree at Bread Loaf (M.Litt. in American Literature) in 1975.
McNair is the current Poet Laureate of Maine. Poet Philip Levine has called him “one of the great storytellers of contemporary poetry.” He is the author of nine volumes of poems and twenty books, including poetry, nonfiction, and edited anthologies. McNair has held grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, two Rockefeller grants for study at the Bellagio Center in Italy, and two NEA fellowships. He has twice been invited to read his poetry by the Library of Congress, and has served four times on the Pulitzer jury for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Other honors include the Robert Frost Award, the Theodore Roethke Prize, an Emmy Award, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, for his “distinguished contribution to the world of letters.” His poetry has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and twenty-one times on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared in the Best American Poetry and over sixty anthologies and textbooks. His most recent books are The Lost Child: Ozark Poems, Lovers of the Lost: New and Selected Poems, and The Words I Chose: A Memoir of Family and Poetry.
As an educator McNair has been a teacher at the Hillsboro and the New London Central High Schools (N.H., 1963-1968); a visiting professor at Dartmouth College (1984); and a professor of English at Colby-Sawyer College (1968-1987), where he founded the American Studies program. As a professor at the Univerity of Maine at Farmington from 1987 until his retirement in 2004, he founded and directed the Creative Writing program, and he was a visiting professor at Colby College from 1999 to 2004. He is currently Professor Emeritus and Writer in Residence at UMF.