Former Teacher Wesley McNair Speaks

Friday, July 19, at 7 PM

By Jesse Schust
Wesley McNair, former high school English teacher in New London, now a nationally acclaimed poet with many awards to his name.

Did you have Wesley McNair as a high school teacher in New London? There was a brief period in which Andover’s high school students were given the choice of attending either Franklin High School or New London High School. During this period an exceptional young teacher named Wesley McNair made a lasting positive impression on many young high school students through his English classes. 

McNair later went on to teach at the college level and became a nationally acclaimed poet with many awards to his name, including the Robert Frost Prize, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal. McNair is the author of more than 20 books and served as Maine’s Poet Laureate from 2011–2016. He has received fellowships from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and United States Artists. 

A lifelong teacher, McNair is currently a professor emeritus and writer-in-residence at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he directed the creative writing program and received the distinguished faculty award. On Friday, July 19, at 7 PM, Wesley McNair will be returning to the area to speak in Wilmot at the Wilmot Congregational Church (next to the library). McNair is looking forward to seeing former students and neighbors from his early days in the area, as well as poetry enthusiasts. 

Last time McNair spoke in Wilmot was in 2019, when he presented a talk about Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon, and the event was very well attended. The July 19 event is expected to draw a full house again. Seating is limited, so if you plan to attend, please notify Wilmot Library ( to help with planning.

In honor of this special occasion, the town of Wilmot has declared Friday, July 19, as “Wesley McNair Day,” in recognition of the specific role Wilmot has played in McNair’s development as a poet and writer. McNair’s close friendship with Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon continued to bring McNair back to Wilmot throughout his life.

Before McNair’s talk, there will be a potluck social from 5.30-6.30 PM, on July 19, in the downstairs of the Wilmot Congregational Church. If you are able to bring food, drink, or dessert, please contact to check what is needed. The social will give people a chance to visit, catch up, and share stories of how McNair fit into their life.

After the evening talk, there will be an opportunity to purchase books of McNair’s poetry and get books signed. The entire Wesley McNair event is brought to Wilmot by the Wilmot Public Library, with support from the Wilmot Congregational Church and the Friends of the Wilmot Public Library. Mark your calendar: Friday, July 19, potluck social at 5.30 PM, talk at 7 PM. 

Admission is free, but space is limited, so arrive early to ensure a seat. For people who don’t live locally, the event will also be available by Zoom via the Wilmot Library website (