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Hoot for a cause with the Maine Women’s Lobby

Last Friday night, the Maine Women’s Lobby hosted the Hot Ticket Hootenanny at the Bangor Arts Exchange. The feminist variety show and silent auction showcased female artists and helped raise money for the lobbyist group. 

The night consisted of five performances: Arisa White, reading poetry, Darcy Withers, singing and playing guitar, Roxanne Munksgaard, who led a singalong; ImprovAcadia, with a few short improv skits; and Julia Poulin, with a comedy sketch. The event was emceed by the drag queen Priscilla Poppycocks. 

White is a poet and associate professor of creative writing at Colby College. The poetry she performed focused on both feminist and racial themes. White’s portion was the most solemn of the performances, with the room listening intently during her readings. She, like all performers to follow, was met with resounding applause.

Withers is a part-time singer-songwriter. She has lived in Maine for about 10 years and also works as a chef and community advisor. While performing a few of her own original songs, including “Dig Down Deep,” she also performed songs by other female artists, such as “Resilience” by Rising Appalachia, which had those who knew the song singing along.

Munksgaard is one of the owners of Maine Jewelry and Art, which resided in downtown Bangor for over a decade before switching to an online store. 

As Munksgaard took the stage, lyric sheets were passed out to everyone in the audience. Munksgaard has a history of union work and protests which led her to adapt four union songs to fit the lobby’s message. Withers also accompanied the first two on guitar.

The traditional union song “Under my feet” was also adapted and arranged by Munsgaard, with lines changed to reference the Maine State House and other relevant places.

One of them, titled “How could anyone,” was created by Munksgaard’s union sister Libby Roderick. Munksgaard described the song as being an anthem for the gender justice movement.

It was no trouble getting the room to participate in the singalong. While people may have started off quietly, shyly following Munksgaard’s lead, the volume rose throughout the songs. “Under my feet” proved the rowdiest, involving a stomping section everyone seemed more than ready to participate in.

ImprovAcadia involved a set of three improv comedians as well as a fourth member directing them and playing piano along with their skits. Like most improv shows, they opened the floor to the audience to decide their skit. Their first skit was a scene from their fictional Oscar-winning movie, “The Devastating Poodle.” 

They also did a skit of an instruction manual for a popsicle, with the members being cut off randomly and having to pick up exactly where the previous person left off.  

Julie Poulin was the final act of the night. Following the improv group, Poulin did a solo comedy special. Poulin catered to her audience, with much of her humor being about being a woman in her fifties, as well as talking about her mother and husband. Much of the humor landed on the cruder side, often referring to sex, although this played well for her audience. 

Two Maine Women’s Lobby members were present and spoke during the night. Executive Director Destie Sprague and Development and Communications Coordinator Dania Bowie.

“We deeply believe that gender policy needs all types of people to engage,” Sprague said. 

Sprague has been lobbying for 18 years, although she only joined the Maine Women’s Lobby in 2020. At the beginning of the night, she spoke about her first time in the courthouse and how she felt she didn’t fit in. 

“I wore a blazer every day,” said Sprague. “It was my ‘I belong’ costume.”

The Maine Women’s Lobby believes in gender justice and fights for policy on such topics, including abortion rights, gender-affirming care, healthcare and childcare. Their recent work involves a policy for paid family and medical leave to be enacted in 2026.

“Together, we can be catalysts for change, and we need everyone,” said Bowie.

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