Justen Ahren is new Martha’s Vineyard poet laureate


Justen Ahren of West Tisbury has been selected as the 2017–19 poet laureate of Martha’s Vineyard, the third poet to serve in that capacity. Past Island poet laureates include Arnie Reisman (2014–17) and Lee McCormack (2012–14). Mr. Ahern was one of 10 local poets nominated for the honorary position by Martha’s Vineyard art and poetry organizations.

In a press release, Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone and a selection committee member, said, “It was a very difficult decision, since the pool of candidates was so talented and highly respected.”

Poet laureate of West Tisbury from 2012 to 2015, Mr. Ahren was the founder and director of Noepe Center for Literary Arts in Edgartown, and a co-director and founder of Featherstone Summer Festival of Poetry. Mr. Ahren also has international experience, organizing and participating in workshops in both Italy and Mexico.

The press release states, “With publications in many literary journals, on the web, and poetry readings on the Island, Mr. Ahren’s strong background and presence in the poetry community prepares him well to be our poet laureate for 2017–19.”

Each poet laureate serves a two-year term, and is responsible for promoting the art of poetry on Martha’s Vineyard. Mr. Ahren, as poet laureate, will write and present a minimum of one talk, lecture, or symposium on poetry each year, and will also provide assistance in the direction of activities for National Poetry Month in April.

There will be a reception for Mr. Ahern on Sunday, April 30, from 2 to 3 pm at the West Tisbury library. The reception is free and open to the public, with music by Andy Herr. Refreshments will be provided.