Gary Lawless has been selected by the Maine Humanities Council (MHC) to receive the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize at a luncheon on Friday, March 24, in Daggett Lounge, in Thorne Hall at Bowdoin College.

Lawless, who lives in Nobleboro, owns and operates Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, an independent bookstore that he opened in 1979 with his wife, Beth Leonard. He is  editor and publisher of Blackberry Books and has had 16 collections of his poetry published in the United States.

“The prize is given in recognition and appreciation of individuals or organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the state through the humanities,” says MHC Executive Director Hayden Anderson. “Gary’s work in the community is a spectacular example of how poetry can make a meaningful difference in the lives of Mainers from all backgrounds.”

Lawless has encouraged others to find their voice with poetry, working with veterans, immigrants and other groups, and he also works with Spindleworks, a nonprofit arts center in Brunswick that helps children and adults with disabilities achieve full lives in their chosen community.

He is the seventh recipient of the Carlson Prize since its creation in 1998. Previous recipients are Donald Soctomah, Joseph Conforti, Neil Rolde, Northeast Historic Film, Billie Gammon and Tabitha King. 

Prize luncheon tickets, $35, are available at mainehumanities.org.