U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine has called Wesley McNair “one of the great storytellers of contemporary poetry.” He is the author of nine volumes of poems and twenty books, including poetry, nonfiction, and edited anthologies. A new collection of poems, The Lost Child: Ozark Poems, is forthcoming from David Godine. McNair has held grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, two Rockefeller grants for study at the Bellagio Center in Italy, and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. He has twice been invited to read his poetry by the Library of Congress, and in 2006 he was selected for a United States Artists Fellowship of $50,000 as one of “America’s finest living artists.” Other honors include the Robert Frost Award, the Theodore Roethke Prize, an Emmy Award, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, for his “distinguished contribution to the world of letters.”
McNair's poetry has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition (Saturday and Sundayprograms) and eighteen times on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac. It has also appeared in the Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize anthology, for which he was a poetry editor in 2010, and over sixty anthologies and textbooks. His most recent books are Lovers of the Lost: New and Selected Poems and The Words I Chose: A Memoir of Family and Poetry. As the current Poet Laureate of Maine, with the help of Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, McNair has developed a program for coaching student contestants in the annual Poetry Out Loud contest, and has introduced a series of statewide initiatives whose general goal is to restore the broken connection between poetry and the Maine people.