Category Archives: lectures

Robert Pinsky and the Favorite Poem Project

By Vanessa Nesvig
Coordinator of Special Projects

In a week Robert Pinsky, the three-term U.S. Poet Laureate, will speak at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. I always look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the great speakers we have come to Portland, and for this event I had to get going! Poetry is something I don’t know much about but realize that I would love it if I just allowed myself the time to read more. But what, and which poets? Combing poetry sections of book stores with my poet friend Emily Koehn, I thought I knew where to start, but time went by quickly and I was overwhelmed again.

Then I looked into Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project…something he started as Poet Laureate, where he recorded Americans, from all walks of life reading their favorite poems and explaining why they mean so much to them. Kids, teenagers, men, women, all reading something that spoke to their heart. Listen to some of these videos and you will get inspired again to find what speaks to your heart as poetry has for so many thousands of years. Pinsky shows us through others, that poetry can be a part of everyone’s life, their everyday life. I learned the place to start is here.

For more information about the Favorite Poem Project, visit

2011 Bernard A. Osher Lecture: An Evening with Robert Pinsky: Is Vision The Twin of Speech?
Monday, March 7, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets: $15/$10 members. Holiday Inn By the Bay. Purchase tickets here.

Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson.

Jenny Holzer Lecture & Projection — Huge Success!

On Tuesday night, world renowned artist Jenny Holzer gave a lecture for 722 people at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., a special projection that Holzer created called For Portland lit up the front of the Museum. It was a spectacular night for Portland! Many thanks to Jenny Holzer for bringing her art to the Museum and Portland.

This evening celebrated a decade of programs made possible by the Nelson Fund for Social Justice at the Portland Museum of Art.

Check out Wednesday’s cover of The Portland Press Herald!

© 2010 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Islands to Oil Spills

By Joe Payne
Casco Baykeeper

My first trip on Casco Bay was in utero on my grandfather’s fishing boat—I don’t remember it.

All of us have special islands, overlooks, or anchorages in Casco Bay that evoke strong emotions and fond memories. Today, as Casco Baykeeper, I have a responsibility to work to improve and protect all aspects of Casco Bay, from Cape Elizabeth to Phippsburg. But like everyone else, I have places on the Bay that hold special meaning for me. I can trace my affinity for the Bay back to my childhood summers on Peaks Island. Swimming at Centennial Beach, exploring World War II fortifications, picking blueberries, and fishing for cunner off the back shore were youthful adventures that helped to shape my passion for the Bay and the islands.

My favorite spot on the whole Bay is a tiny and intriguing island called Pumpkin Nob, 350 feet off the northern tip of Peaks Island. As a child, I think it appealed to me because of its size. I felt that if you lived on Pumpkin Nob you could be the king of all you surveyed. It was a place where it seemed you could learn the names of all the plants and animals and intimately know what each season would bring.

Had the U.S. Government had its way, the island might have disappeared before I was ever born. During WWII, hundreds of Navy ships passed through Hussey Sound. Their entry into Portland Harbor was hindered by Pumpkin Nob (also called Punkin Island), so the authorities allegedly recommended blowing up the rocky outcrop to open up the passage. The idea, perhaps never a serious proposal, was eventually abandoned, and Pumpkin Nob remains a lovely landmark in Casco Bay.

Hussey Sound is a deep but narrow channel between Peaks and Long Island. On one side of the channel is a granite outcrop called Soldier Ledge. A Navy ship hit the ledge during World War II and spilled about 50,000 gallons of oil. As a result the top ten feet was dynamited off. No one reported the spill at the time because the location of our battleships was classified information. In 1972, the Norwegian tanker Tamano struck a buoy and went aground on the same ledge, spilling 100,000 gallons of heavy petroleum.

Almost a quarter century later, Friends of Casco Bay helped in the recovery of 78% of the 179,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled by the Julie N tanker when it struck the Casco Bay Bridge. This past summer, because of that experience and others, I was able to offer help to my Waterkeeper colleagues in the Gulf of Mexico in dealing with the disaster of the Deepwater Horizon. Although it’s hard to know the impact of this unprecedented oil spill, I believe that its effect on the ocean food web will continue to become apparent as time goes on.

Joe Payne will speak at the Portland Museum of Art on Saturday, October 16 at 11 a.m. The lecture is free with Museum admission. Learn more here.