Longfellow Days 2014: The Poet and the Civil War

Longfellow Days 2014, scheduled February 1 through February 27, is a celebration inspired by the life and works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1825, and professor of modern languages and librarian 1829–1835).

George Peter Alexander Healy, "Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow," 1862. Bowdoin College Museum of Art,  Bequest of Mrs. Annie Louise Cary Raymond.

George Peter Alexander Healy, “Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,” 1862.
Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Bequest of Mrs. Annie Louise Cary Raymond.

The 10th anniversary of Longfellow Days in Brunswick coincides with the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

A century and a half ago, throughout the bloodiest conflict in American history, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was like every parent, fearful for his children and his nation.

In this period he composed such stirring works as Paul Revere’s Ride, a call for patriotism that harkened back to the American Revolution, and Christmas Bells, a poignant call for peace.

Throughout February 2014, Longfellow Days cultural events will reflect on the war and the revitalizing, healing power of words.

Saturday, February 1, 2:30 PM ▪ CELEBRATION OF MAINE’S POETS LAUREATE
Senator Angus King hosts a trio of gifted poets who have served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maine – a program that King initiated while serving as Governor.  Wesley McNair, Betsy Sholl and Baron Wormser will read their work and the poetry of Kate Barnes, Maine’s first distinguished poet, who died in 2013. Refreshments.
Kresge Auditorium, Bowdoin College

Sunday, February 2, 1:00 PM THE COURSEN READINGS, PART ONE
Many superb writers have graced Brunswick and its vicinity through the years. We feature nine of them in a three-part Sunday series named for the late poet and great Longfellow Days friend, Herbert Coursen. First up: Marcia Brown, Stephen Cowperthwaite, and David Sloan. Refreshments.
Fireplace Room, Curtis Memorial Library

Sunday, February 9, 1:00 PM THE COURSEN READINGS, PART TWO
Second installment in the series of readings featuring contemporary Maine poets.  Steve Gibbon, Pam Burr Smith, and George Van Deventer are featured today. Refreshments.
Fireplace Room, Curtis Memorial Library

Tuesday, February 11, 10:30 AM ▪ COMMUNITY READINGS AT THE HIGHLANDS
This gathering, facilitated by poets Ted and Ruth Bookey, is informal and open to everyone. Please bring a poem to share. Refreshments.
Ballroom, Holden Frost House, The Highlands, 24 Elm Street, Topsham

Saturday, February 15, 10:00 AM ▪ SILENT FILM: BUSTER KEATON’S THE GENERAL
If anyone could find humor in the tragedy that was the Civil War, it was Buster Keaton. He plays a Southern railroad engineer who is not allowed to enlist – making it more challenging to woo the woman of his dreams.  Remarks by Tricia Welsch, Associate Professor of Film Studies at Bowdoin. Piano accompaniment by Doug Protsik.
Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall, Bowdoin College

Sunday, February 16, 1:00 PM THE COURSEN READINGS, PART THREE
Three more poets, Carolyn Gelland, Terry Grasse, and Amy Spens, present their work as the Coursen series concludes.  Refreshments.
Fireplace Room, Curtis Memorial Library

Wednesday, February 19, 12:15 PM LECTURE: NORTHERN WRITERS AND THE CIVIL WAR
Bowdoin College Professor of English Peter Coviello speaks about literary responses to the Civil War by our focal poet and his contemporaries Alcott, Hawthorne, Stowe, and Whitman. This lecture is part of the Midcoast Senior College’s Winter Wisdom program.
Morrell Room, Curtis Memorial Library

Thursday, February 20, 10:00 AM ▪ COMMUNITY READINGS AT THORNTON OAKS
This gathering, facilitated by poets Ted and Ruth Bookey, is informal and open to everyone. Please bring a poem to share. Refreshments.
Merrymeeting Room, Thornton Oaks, 25 Thornton Way (off Baribeau Drive)

Sunday, February 23, 10:00 AM ▪ CHAPEL SERVICE & CONCERT
Spend a musical and reflective morning in the Chapel erected a few years after Longfellow left Brunswick, Maine, for Cambridge, Mass. Offering will benefit the reconstruction of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Bowdoin College Chapel

Thursday, February 27, 4 PM ▪ HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HENRY
Students from local elementary schools pay tribute to the poet by sharing work they have composed during special Longfellow Days’ school visits.  All that, plus cake.
People Plus, 35 Union Street

All events are free.

Longfellow Days is a program of the Brunswick Downtown Association, with support from Bowdoin College, the Nathaniel Davis Fund, Maine Arts Commission, Maine Humanities Council, and the Association of Bowdoin Friends.

Visit the Longfellow Days Facebook page.

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