UNE archivist Jefferson Navicky takes home Maine Literary Award in poetry

Jefferson Navicky, M.F.A., archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection at UNE
Jefferson Navicky, M.F.A., took home the award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance in May.

Jefferson Navicky, M.F.A., the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection on the University of New England’s Portland Campus, has been awarded a 2020 Maine Literary Award for his series of poems, “Other Fathers and Other Poems.”

The Maine Literary Awards, an annual competition hosted by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance (MWPA), were hosted online in May with over 200 people in attendance. This year, more than 136 manuscripts were submitted into the award’s Short Works Competition, for which Navicky took home the prize in the poetry category.

“Other Fathers” is a short series of poems about his own father, fatherhood in general, and other people and objects that can “sometimes stand in for your real father when he isn’t enough, which he never is, and that’s okay and is exactly how it should be,” Navicky said.

Navicky was shocked when his name was announced.

“When I heard the award announced live over Zoom, I just about fell off my couch!” he exclaimed. “The competition was pretty fierce, and the other finalists were very strong poets, so I felt really grateful.”

As a prize, Navicky was awarded a gift certificate to a bookstore of his choice. He selected his favorite bookstore, Gulf of Maine Books, in Brunswick. Additionally, he said the surge of recognition and support he saw from the win was a prize in itself.

“It felt like stardom’s momentary spotlight on a relatively small-time poet like myself,” he said.

The poet said he draws inspiration from his work at UNE preserving the works of Maine’s women writers.

“I consider it a huge gift to be able to spend time with my literary idols and Maine’s literary icons and to be charged with caretaking their important legacies,” Navicky said. “I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so that people can once again return to our beautiful reading room and hold Maine’s history in their hands.”

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