FORT KENT, Maine -- St. John Valley natives Connie Voisine, left, and Cathie Pelletier are set to do a double reading and book signing on August 3 at the Swampbuck restaurant in Fort Kent. Credit: Contributed Photo

FORT KENT, Maine — National authors and St. John Valley natives Cathie Pelletier and Connie Voisine are coming to Fort Kent to read and sign copies of their recent works.

And though both authors hail from the same area and went on to receive numerous national literary accolades, Pelletier said they have never met in person.

The two authors were brought together through Facebook after Pelletier posted N.C. Wyeth’s painting “The Aroostook Potato Harvest.”  One of Voisine’s relatives shared the post. Voisine then shared it. And when Pelletier saw this, she messaged Voisine and suggested that they should meet. And Voisine said this evolved into the upcoming reading event.

“Thank you, digital age,” Voisine said. “When I’m home, I’m hanging out at the lake and visiting family. I don’t do much external socializing outside seeing the family, so I’m really glad she reached out.”

Both have had works on the New York Times Best Sellers list among other professional achievements, and are treating their home audience to their works.

Pelletier, born in Allagash, has written 12 novels. Her work has received praise from the New York Times Book Review and authors such as Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut. Her book “Harvest Moon,” written under the pen name K.C. McKinnon, was printed in 22 languages and was made into a CBS film. She has also collaborated with musicians such as Tanya Tucker and David Byrne.

Voisine was born in Fort Kent. After graduating from Fort Kent High School, she received an education at Yale University, the University of Utah and the University of California. She is a professor of English at New Mexico State University, and has written several books of poetry, with the most recent being “The Bower,” the result of her Fulbright Fellowship to Northern Ireland. Most recently, she was a 2021-2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

Pelletier will read a three-minute excerpt from one of her books, while Voisine will read a poem. She will choose some about the region, some humorous ones as a nod to Pelletier who writes with some humor, and others for a more general audience, she said.

And though Voisine has traveled the world, she said her youth in northern Maine was immensely formative.

“You carry it with you all the time,” she said. “It’s a unique place to grow up. It almost takes going someplace else to really understand how it forms you.”

Pelletier wrote via social media that she is honored to be sharing a reading with Voisine, whose credentials are among the highest a poet can achieve.

“Northern Maine and Fort Kent are very proud of her,” Pelletier said.

Not many people outside of Aroostook County grew up picking potatoes, for example, and French is not as commonly spoken in other parts of the world. People in other areas thought speaking French was fancy, but it’s just a regular language in northern Maine, she said.

Now, Voisine lives in New Mexico, which has its own unique culture but also shares many similarities with northern Aroostook.

“Many of my students are bilingual,” she said. “I’m 20 miles away from the border. There are large, Catholic families. And it’s like, I didn’t go that far away if you think about it. The way we grew up was so specific that you can find the similarities in other places, too.”

The reception is set for from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., and the reading will go from from 6:15 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Swamp Buck Restaurant & Lounge in Fort Kent.