Maya Williams and Pádraig Ó Tuama:
Poetry as an Art of Survival

Occurred on Thursday, July 22, 2021

Maya Williams (she/hers, they/them, and ey/em) from Portland, Maine, USA is a religious queer Black Mixed Race suicide survivor constantly writing poems. Pádraig Ó Tuama from Ireland, is a poet and theologian, whose work centers around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. Both Maya and Pádraig were mesmerizing when they read their poems live, and they had a rich conversation about identity, art, and overcoming.

View this video for a preview of Maya and Pádraig in action, reciting their poetry:

Maya Williams

Maya Williams (she/hers, they/them, and ey/em) is a religious queer Black Mixed Race suicide survivor constantly writing poems. She graduated with a Bachelors in Social Work and a B.A. in English in May 2017. She graduated with a community practice-focused Masters in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social Justice at the University of New England in May 2018. She is currently in Randolph College's low residency Masters in Fine Arts for Creative Writing focusing on Poetry. She has competed locally and nationally in slam since her freshman year at East Carolina University under the slam team Word of Mouth in Greenville, North Carolina. While with them, she has placed in the top 20 at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2015, and opened for folks such as Indira Allegra, Neil Hilborn, and Angela Davis. Maya lives in Portland, Maine, where she was recently named as the city's poet laureate.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Poet and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama's work centres around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. Working fluently on the page and with groups of people, Pádraig is a skilled speaker, teacher and group worker. His work has won acclaim in circles of poetry, politics, religion, psychotherapy and conflict analysis. Pádraig presents Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios a podcast that takes a deep dive into a single poem. With 4 million downloads of its first three seasons, Poetry Unbound from On Being is a powerful example of the appetite for poetry in dispersed and diverse populations.

Pádraig Ó Tuama: Photo by Trevor Brady.
Maya Williams: Photo by William James.

This event was sponsored by The BTS Center in partnership with Portland Public Library, Maine Humanities Council, and NAMI Maine: National Alliance on Mental Health Maine.