Portland Poet Laureate and Bates College Professor Awarded Maine’s Public Humanities Prize

Maya Williams and Myron M. Beasley, Ph.D., are the 2024 recipients of the Maine Humanities Council’s Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize


April 17, 2024

The Maine Humanities Council (MHC), a statewide non-profit organization and Maine’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has announced the winners of its 10th Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize. Maya Williams, Portland’s seventh Poet Laureate, will be awarded the prize for their creation of safe spaces for discussion and art, ensuring that people engage with empathy, community, and understanding. Myron M. Beasley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Bates College, will be awarded the prize for his innovative leadership in conversations around art, his care in connecting audiences, and the breadth and depth he brings to his creative projects.  The 2024 Constance H. Carlson Prize will be awarded during a ceremony on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, from 12:00-1:30 pm, at the Equality Community Center in Portland.

“As a poet and facilitator, Maya creates safe artistic spaces that are accessible to all Maine people,” said Luis Millones, Maine Humanities Council Board Member. “Their work engages with places, events, and people from a wide variety of perspectives, connecting the people of Maine through open, empathetic dialogue.”

Millones continued, “Myron Beasley’s work as a scholar, curator, and performance artist recognizes the power of art and ideas to transform communities. We wanted to honor his commitment to highlighting the important stories and work of people from marginalized groups.”

Named for the first female president of a public university in Maine, the Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize was first awarded in 1998 and has gone to such advocates of the public humanities in Maine as Joseph Jackson, Carol Dana, Monica Wood, Gary Lawless, and Donald Soctomah. Prize recipients are selected by the Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize Selection Committee, which is made up of people with strong ties to the public humanities in Maine and are chosen in alignment with the Maine Humanities Council’s Prize Criteria, Equity Statement, and Strategic Plan. Free registration for the May 8 prize ceremony is available at mainehumanities.org