Accommodations with a new, literary amenity.
By Joel Crabtree
Pizza menus and the Bible are the usual reading material lying around hotel rooms. Lately, though, rows of verse have started showing up on nightstands too. Maine poet laureate Stuart Kestenbaum and the Maine Office of Tourism first teamed up last year to print 10,000 cards featuring works by prominent Maine poets, then distributed those cards to motels, hotels, and inns around the state. Kestenbaum came up with the idea. Since 2017, his dulcet Poems from Here radio shorts on Maine Public have similarly dropped poetry on people when and where they aren’t expecting it. The Office of Tourism agreed to fund the Poem Card Project, cultural tourism coordinator Abbe Levin explains, because poetry deepens a visitor’s feel for Maine. This year’s batch of five poems, on 15,000 cards, takes readers on a drive through a rural hamlet, on a visit to an assisted-living resident far from her island home, and on a clam-digging expedition along coastal mudflats. “The poems,” Kestenbaum says, “are describing a certain sense of Maine that I’d like people to know.”