Past Portsmouth Poet Laureates
Tammi Truax was the 12th poet laureate of Portsmouth from April 2019 to April 2022. During her term she built bridges to Japan and Japanese poetry by connecting with Portsmouth’s sister city Nichinan, Japan. Tammi kept the community, here and there on the other side of the world, engaged with the fine art of Japanese poetry and art, throughout a global pandemic, a time, we can all agree, that community building was more important than ever. and because of that, the work she did became more than building community, she was building hope.
Mike Nelson was the 11th Poet Laureate of Portsmouth from April 2017 to April 2019. Mike has been hanging around the poetry scene of Portsmouth and the Seacoast for almost twenty years. He’s published three books, most recently Another Forty Years. Mike is the host of Beat Night at Book & Bar and the founder of Tribe Poetry Project and Senile Monk Press. He’s passionate about amplifying the creative voices in our community, especially those that struggle to be heard.
Kate Leigh was Portsmouth’s 10th Poet Laureate from April 2015 to April 2017. She focused her project on engaging youth in Portsmouth and surrounding communities, by offering classroom-based workshops and public programs throughout the Seacoast area. The emphasis of these workshops includes using poetry to contribute to a more peaceful world with specific prompts for discussing Portsmouth’s newly opened African Burying Ground, presented as an example of a good community response to social injustice.
Kimberly Cloutier Green
Kimberly Cloutier Green was Portsmouth’s 9th Poet Laureate from April 2013 to April 2015. Kimberly is a poet, collaborating artist, and workshop leader living in Kittery Point, Maine. She is a first-place prize winner in the national Aldrich Poetry Prize; her chapbook, What Becomes of Words, was selected for publication by Alice Quinn, then editor of The New Yorker. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have been published in several literary journals.
John-Michael Albert was the 8th Poet Laureate of Portsmouth from April 2011 to April 2013. He has been a member of the board of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and Jazzmouth: The Portsmouth Poetry and Jazz Festival and was a founding member of the poetry workshop and performance ensemble, Blood on the Floor. In addition to frequent invitations to read his work in public, he has hosted many monthly poetry readings, judged poetry contests, edited poetry anthologies, and written over twenty essays on the craft of modern poetry for publication (see, for example, Animus, the poetry quarterly from Sheltering Pines Press).
Mark DeCarteret was Portsmouth’s 7th poet laureate from April 2009 to April 2011. He has had work in such reviews as AGNI, Boston Review, Chicago Review, Conduit, Cream City Review, failbetter, Hotel Amerika, Phoebe, Poetry East, Salamander, Sonora Review, and Third Coast, as well as the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press), Places of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry (Story Line Press), Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998 (Black Sparrow Press) and Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets (Oyster River Press) which he also co-edited. His chapbook “Flap” was published by Finishing Line Press in spring 2011.
Elizabeth Knies was Portsmouth’s 6th poet laureate from April 2007 to 2009. She is the author of The New Year and Other Poems; Streets After Rain; From the Window; and White Peonies. She taught ESL, writing, critical thinking and literature in New Hampshire, Maine, Japan, Missouri, Colorado and Massachusetts, and has worked as a reviewer and an editor. Her most enduring literary connection is with the Skimmilk Farm poets, commemorated in Ken Browne’s documentary, “Mondays at Skimmilk: 30 Years of Writers at Work.”
Mimi White was the 5th Portsmouth Poet Laureate from April 2005 to April 2007. She was a teacher and worked with students of all ages to help them create original and authentic work, be it poetry, memoir or non fiction writing. Mimi White has worked in a variety of settings including schools, libraries, prisons, residencies for the elderly, and universities. She has been a member of the faculty at the University of New Hampshire, Northern Essex Community College, and Lesley University. Her poems have been published in dozens of journals. They include Poetry, Harvard Review, West Branch, The Seattle Review, Yankee and Rivendell. Her book of poems, “The Last Island” was published in 2008.
John Perrault was Portsmouth’s 4th Poet Laureate from April 2003 to April 2005. He practices law, teaches literature and writes. His book with accompanying CD The Ballad of Louis Wagner and other New England Stories in Verse was published by Peter Randall. John’s poetry has appeared in The Café Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His collection of poems, Here Comes the Old Man Now, was published by River Press.
Maren C. Tirabassi
Maren C. Tirabassi was the 3rd Poet Laureate of Portsmouth from April 2001 to April 2003. She is the author or co-author of more than eighteen books, including “Gifts in Open Hands – Worship for the Global Community and All Whom God Has Joined,” a resource book for gay and lesbian couples, clergy and justices of the peace in preparing for marriage. She is the pastor of Union Church UCC in Madbury, and travels throughout the country leading writing workshops on poetry, memoir and creative liturgy.
Robert Dunn was Portsmouth’s 2nd Poet Laureate from April 1999 to 2001. He published five collections of poetry, not including the numbers of small, hand-sewn books that he distributed to people on the street. As poet laureate, Robert instituted The Hoot, a now 23-year-old monthly poetry reading at Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth, as well as creating public displays of poetry around the city and in the parking garage.
Esther Buffler was Portsmouth’s 1st Poet laureate from April 1997 to 1999. She came to poetry later in life from a long career in storytelling and professional theater. She devoted the last 25 years of her life to writing, teaching and sharing her talents in New Hampshire. She staged a touring production about American women poets, was a poet in residence at star island and promoted poetry in local schools. She published five collections of poetry including Only Now. Her last book, It’s All Ahead, is published by Phineas Press and is available at RiverRun book store. Esther died in August, 2002 at the age of 93. Currently a fund in her memory supports an annual poetry residence in the Portsmouth schools.