BRUNSWICK — Thirteen special arts events inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow will take place in Brunswick Feb. 4 to 25, the month of the poet’s birth 211 years ago.

This year, Longfellow Days explores the phenomenon of nostalgia, of looking back, through the lens of the poet. Longfellow was fascinated with heroic figures of antiquity, and he wrote sensitively about his own life experiences and the aging process.

There will also be opportunities to look back at Longfellow’s reputation and how critics have received his work in different eras.

The theme, “The heart hath its own memory” is a phrase from Longfellow’s 1880 poem “From My Arm-Chair.”

Longfellow Days was established as an annual series to unify the community and to lift people’s spirits during the cold winter month. The annual literary festival, co-chaired by Maryli Tiemann and Amy E. Waterman, features a variety of formats intended to appeal to a broad spectrum of Brunswick-area residents.

It includes lectures, film screenings, poetry workshops and open mics, and four readings by 12 Maine poets – the last taking place each Sunday afternoon in Curtis Memorial Library’s cozy fireplace room. All events are free and open to the public.

Among the highlights:

February 14 there will be a talk on reading and rereading childhood favorites by Tricia Welsch, professor of Film Studies at Bowdoin College, as part of the Midcoast Senior College’s Winter Wisdom program. The talk takes place at 12:15 p.m., in the Morrell Room, Curtis Memorial Library.

Welsch will also host a Feb. 17 screening of Gillian Armstrong’s 1993 version of “Little Women,” with Christian Bale, Claires Danes, and Winona Ryder, at 11 a.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall, Bowdoin College.

There will be tours of the Longfellow Rooms at the Pejepscot Historical Society’s Chamberlain Museum at 1 and 3 p.m. Feb. 17.

Gary Lawless will emcee a lively, participatory public read-in at 7 p.m. Feb. 21, helping to parse the quintessential “looking back” poem, “Moritori Salutamos,” which Longfellow wrote for the 50th reunion of his Bowdoin College graduating class. This will take place at The Brunswick Inn on Park Row, where a signature cocktail will be created for the event.

Threading throughout the month will be poetry-sharing workshops, at 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at Thornton Oaks, and 10 a.m. Feb. 19 at The Highlands. And the four-part Sunday Coursen Readings at 1 p.m. Feb. 4, 11, 18,and 25 at Curtis.

The 12 featured poets are Sarah Anderson, Kristen Case, Derek Meader, Dave Morrison, Jefferson Navicky, Mihku Paul, Ellen Taylor, Jim Glenn Thatcher, Maureen Thorson, Sheila Wellehan, Beau Williams, and Shana Youngdahl

Three events will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick: An HWL birthday celebration (a few days early) is scheduled at 7 p.m. Feb. 23, with Gary Lawless as a featured poet, plus an open mic, surprises and birthday cake.

Reverend Sylvia Stocker will present a service revolving around “Poetry Through the Lifespan” at 10 a.m. Feb. 25.

Bringing the series to a close, at 4 p.m. Feb. 27, John Cross, secretary of development and college relations at Bowdoin, and an unofficial historian of the college, will speak about the “History of Henry in Brunswick” during the 1820s and ‘30s when he was a Bowdoin student and later an influential faculty member.

Note: This date is his actual birthday, so attendees should bring a kazoo or confetti to celebrate.

Longfellow Days is a program of the Brunswick Downtown Association, with support from Bowdoin College, The Brunswick Inn, Hannaford, and the Nathaniel Davis Fund.
For a complete schedule of events, visit

filed under: