The Beautiful Changes

the word exchange

Last week, April 28th, I drove up to Burlington to listen in on a reading by Greg Delanty, Major Jackson, SMC poet/professor Greg Delanty, and SMC Associate Professor of English Kerry Shea. The poets were celebrating the publication of The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation. The reading was sponsored by The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.

The weather worked in their favor. Burlington was beautiful and, at last, showing some signs of spring. Finally, in Vermont, the grass is turning and the first buds are greening the trees. The evening was warm. Any other poetry reading I might have skipped for a date with my longboard, especially in Burlington.

But there’s something I love about Anglo Saxon poetry. It’s beautiful, to my ears, in the same way that some of the earthiest poetry of New England is beautiful. The best Anglo Saxon poetry speaks with a directness and simplicity you won’t often find in the sophisticated and cosmopolitan utterances of the Roman poets. And though stark, the Anglo Saxon temper also comes with a rugged humor and gamefulness typical of poetry in simpler and less self-conscious cultures. You have to go back to Sappho’s time and the earliest Chinese poets to find the same sorrow, laughter, nobility and raw sexual humor. The Anglo Saxons were also avid riddlers and story-tellers, to a degree, perhaps, that is unique to them. (Their riddles keenly interested and influenced J.R.R. Tolkien.) They wrote Beowulf. Many of their shorter poems retell the dealings of Thanes, Kings and Cheiftans – good and bad.

The book orders the poetry into subject matter and content. Here’s what you will find (in order):

  • Poems of  Exile and Longing
  • First Riddle Hoard
  • Poems about Historical Battles, People, and Places
  • Second Riddle Hoard
  • Poems About Living
  • Third Riddle-Hoard
  • Poems About Dying
  • Fourth Riddle Hoard
  • Biblical Stories, Lives of Saints
  • Fifth Riddle-Hoard
  • Prayers, Admonitions, and Allegories
  • Sixth Riddle-Hoard
  • Remedies and Charms
  • Final Riddle-Hoard

Seems to me the table of contents alone could sell the book. Who wouldn’t want to read the Remedies and Charms? — a strange collocation of Christianity, Witchcraft and Paganism. I wonder if our contemporary poet, Annie Finch (self-proclaimed Wiccan), hasn’t read these remedies and charms?

Of all the categories, The Biblical Stories, Lives of Saints, are to me the least interesting or compelling. All the rigor seems to drain out of the Anglo Saxon inkwell when they write about a distant, dysfunctional tribal people, the Israelites, and their obsession with real estate and a fitful God. The whole of it was utterly foreign to the Anglo Saxons and the poems feel pro forma (even if through the lens of their own experience). Better to include them, I suppose. Missionaries were fussily converting the Anglo Saxon pagans, but the poems still feel like book reports. Fortunately (for us and the rest of the poems) the Anglo Saxons get right back to betrayal, rings, sex, swords, a good joke and, above all, grim, hard deaths. They were a people who lived life in the bone and were much better when Christianity was subservient to their own ethos.

old English þrosoðy and translation

Worth noting is that there is no single translator. Each of the poems has been translated by a different poet and this brings up a subject I’ve discussed before. I disagree with the notion that a poem’s form doesn’t need to be translated: it’s rhymes, rhythm, meter, stanzas, etc… There are translators who denigrate such attempts. The results, they say, frequently contort syntax, word order and meaning for the sake of form. However, I find their arguments self-serving. The genius of poetry, up until the 20th century, was not just in its content but also in the patterning and beauty of its language. Like the earliest Chinese poems, many scholars believe Anglo Saxon poetry may have been written to the tune of this or that melody – certainly many believe they were likely to have been sung or chanted. Their poetry doesn’t rhyme, but it is patterned through the use of stress and alliteration.

Anglo Saxon prosody works like this: Each line is called a stich (pronounced stick). And every Anglo Saxon line, or stich, is divided in two – a first half and a second half. Each half is referred to as a hemistich. Each hemistich has two stressed syllables. There can be any number of unstressed syllables. (If you’re not sure of the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables, you can check out my guides to Iambic Pentameter.) Each half of the line (each containing two stressed syllables) is divided by a caesura — a pause.

  • Stressed syllables! // Strong verse!
  • Oh stressed syllables // make strong my verse!
  • Stressed will be the syllables // that make strong my verse!

Each line would be permissible, each containing two stressed syllables. There can be any number of unstressed syllables. The second requirement for an Anglo Saxon line is alliteration. Alliteration is when the consonants of each stressed syllable are the same or sound alike. In the lines above, the S sound is repeated in the first and second stressed syllable of the first hemistich and in the first syllable of the second hemistich. One more important rule: the second syllable of the second hemistich never alliterates except in the rarest of circumstances. So, if a is an alliterating syllable and b is a non-alliterating syllable, the possible combinations are as follows (based on The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics):

  • a a // a b
  • a b // a b
  • b a // a b

And that’s that. A commonly referenced modern example from Richard Wilbur, his poem Junk, can be found here. I love the poem, but Wilbur doesn’t follow the rules (the second stressed syllable in the second hemistich alliterates in many of his lines). A fun modern pastiche can also be found at, a poem called Beocat. However, this poem, like Wilbur’s, bends the rules by alliterating the second syllable of the second hemistich. So much alliteration just seems too much for the modern poet to resist (not made from the stern stuff of the Anglo Saxon poet).

Anyway, trying to convey the formal aspects of any poem in translation is, indeed, difficult. But if the original poet thought it worthwhile to sweat over and struggle with, then why shouldn’t the translator sweat? Why is the translator exempt? Why do some translators make excuses and rationalizations? In my opinion, the translator who only translates the content of a traditional poem, is only translating half the poem. When Mandelbaum translated Dante’s Divine Comedy, he didn’t try to recreate the rhyming tercets of the original, but he did recreate the feeling of form and structure by writing blank verse. Mandelbaum also used blank verse to translate Ovid. (The accentual-syllabics of blank verse was foreign to the quantitative verse of Latin poetry.) I’m not suggesting that modern poets should always try to recreate the alliterative verse of the Anglo Saxons, but I do think there’s value in recognizing the traditional beauty of the original poem and language by recreating it’s rigor in our own.

At first glance, two poets out of the several dozen contributing poets, Derek Mahon and A.E. Stallings, managed to approximate what an Anglo Saxon might have heard. Here are the opening lines to the poem Durham, translated by Mahon:

Is ðeos burch breome     geond Breotenrice,
steppa gestaðolad,    stanas ymbutan
wundrum gewæxen.     Weor ymbeornad,
ea yðum stronge,       and ðer inne wunað
feola fisca kyn          on floda gemonge.
And ðær gewexen is    wudafæstern micel;
wuniad in ðem wycum    wilda deor monige,
in deope dalum      deora ungerim.

Known throughout Britain, this noble city
Its steep slopes and stone buildings
are thought a wonder; weirs contain
its fast river; fish of all kinds
thrive here in the thrusting waters.
A great forest has grown up here,
thickets throng with wild creatures;
deer drowse in the deep dales. (….)

  • If you want to hear Durham read in the original, Michael D.C. Drout, Prentice Professor of English at Wheaton College is heroically reading the entire corpus of Anglo-Saxon prosody. He reads Durham here.

And here are the opening lines to The Riming Poem, translated by A.E. Stallings (whose opinion on translating are like my own):

Me lifes onlah       se þis leoht onwrah
ond þæt torhte geteoh,    tallice onwrah
Glæd wæs ic gliwum,      glenged hiwum
blissa bleoum,      blostma hiwum
Secgas mec segon,     symbel ne alegon
feohgiefe gefegon;     frætwed wægon

The Lord lavished life on me               I had it all
Blessings were rife for me                    honor in hall,
Clad in the gladsome                               cloth of the looms
Dyed with the handsome                      hues of the blooms,
Men the looked up at me,                      friendship reigned
Filling the cup for me,                            wine never waned.

  • The riming poem is unusual in that it also rhymes in the original Anglo Saxon (which may be why Stallings was asked to translate it). One wonders if the original poet was excited by what he or she had written. By the standards of the day, it’s a tour de force performance. Professor Drout reads the poem here.

While many of the poets in the Word Exchange dispense with formal structure, writing free verse, (words are exchanged but there’s no verse exchange), I was nevertheless pleased to see that equally many tried to honor some sense of the original. (I was disappointed not to see Annie Finch. If she was overlooked, a pity.) However, the benefit of so many contributors, as Greg Delanty likes to stress, is that we are reminded that Anglo Saxon poetry doesn’t consist of one author or voice but of many (whose names have been lost). We are also made aware of the many different ways a poem can be translated, a kind of tour in and of itself, and what different poets value in translation.

the great  variety

One of the poets who read at the The Word Exchange was Major Jackson (someone I was finally able to meet). Jackson opted for free verse (by his own account, he originally attempted to introduce some traditional elements into his translation). Jackson translated The Gifts of Men. I’ve just been reading Walt Whitman and I couldn’t help but be struck by the Whitmanesque breadth of Jackson’s translation and, by extension, the Anglo Saxon original.

Fela bið on foldan    forðgesynra
geongra geofona,   þa þa gæstberend
wegað in gewitte,    swa her weorude god,
meotud meahtum swið,    monnum dæleð
syleð sundorgiefe,      sendeð wide
agne spede,    þara æghwylc mot
dryhtwuniendra     dæl onfon.
Ne bið ænig pæs    earfoðsælig
mon on moldan    ne pæs medspedig,
lytelhydig,      ne þæs læthydig,
þæt hine se argifa   ealles biscyrge
modes cræfta   oþþe mægendæda,
wis on gewitte   oþþe on wordcwidum,
þy læs ormod sy   ealra þinga,
þara þe he geworhte    in woruldlife,
geofona gehwylcre.

Behold God’s prevailing gifts on earth, discernable
to all souls! His unique powers are bestowed
and apportioned widely to every woman and man.
None are so wretched, unfortunate, or feeble-minded
to believe that the Giver of all has not endowed them
at least with a living breath, speech, and a smart mind
to appreciate their wordly abilities in this life.

With this broad-hearted beginning, the poet proceeds to a list of all the peoples and their avocations.

Sum in mæðle mæg modsnottera
folcrædenne   forð gehycgan,
þær witena biþ   worn ætsomne.
Sum mæg wrætlice   weorc ahycgan
heahtimbra gehwæs;   hond bið gelæred,
wis ond gewealden   swa bið wyrhtan ryht,
sele asettan,   con he sidne ræced
fæste gefegan   wiþ færdryrum.
Sum mid hondum mæg   hearpan gretan,
ah he gleobeames   gearobrygda list.
Sum bið rynig,    sum ryhtscytte
sum leoða gleaw,    sum on lande snel,
feþespedig. Sum on fealone wæg
stefnan steoreð…

One is a visionary statesman and effective member of the parliament.
One is a master architect of high-ceilinged buildings, a deft hand, disciplined and judicious, drafting expansive halls that last.
One skillfully plays the harp.
One flies swiftly round the track, one makes a good shot, one is limber, one is swift, first to finish a foot race.
One maneuvers a ship over harrowing waves.

  • Professor Drout reads Gifts of Men here. Drout also provides a complete prose translation.

Jackson’s rendition, for me, conveys some sense of the original poet’s joy and pride in his life and people, again reminding me of Whitman. There is a capaciousness that is unmatched, to my knowledge, by any other poem in any other ancient language: Greek, Latin, Chinese, Japanese.

The Anglo Saxons seemed to love a riddle and, like the rest of us, couldn’t get enough of sex. Put the two together and humor was inevitable. The following poem was read several times, at the meeting, both in Modern English and Old English:

Riddle 25
Ic eom wunderlicu wiht,    wifum on hyte,
neahbuendum nyt;    nængum sceþþe
burgsittendra,     nymþe bonan anum.
Staþol min is steapheah    stonde ic on bedde,
neoþan ruh nathwær.      Neþeð hwilum
ful cyrtenu    ceorles dohtor,
modwlonc meowle,    þæt heo on mec gripeð,
ræseð mec on readne,      reafað min heafod,
fegeð mec on fæsten.     Feleþ sona
mines gemotes,          seo þe mec nearwað,
wif wundenlocc.        Wæt bið þæt eage.

  • Professor Drout’s reading is here.

Call Me Fabulous translated by Gerry Murphy

Call me fabulous,
that rare thing,
a woman’s delight.
Ever ready in the kitchen,
harming none but those
who would harm me.
Standing tall in my own bed,
my talk rigid on its hairy root.
That haughty girl,
the churl’s beautiful daughter,
deigns to take me in hand,
fribbles me to distraction,
stashes me in her sanctum,
weeps at our union.
Not a dry eye in the house.

The following riddle is my personal favorite:

Hyse cwom gangan,  þær he hie wisse
stondan in wincsele, stop feorran to,
hror hægstealdmon,     hof his agen
hrægl hondum up,     hrand under gyrdels
hyre stondendre    striþes nathwæt,
worhte his willan;    wagedan buta.
þegn onnette,      wæs þragum nyt
tillic esne,      teorode hwæþre
æt stunda gehwam     strong ær þon hio,
werig þæs weorces.    Hyre weaxan ongon
under gyrdelse      þæt oft gode men
ferðþum freogað      ond mid feo bicgað.

Marcia Karp’s translation begins:

A boy came walking to where he knew
she would stand for what he would do.
He stepped from afar to her in that corner.
…………His hand raised his shirt.
…………He pushed under her skirt
his stiff I-know-not-what and he horned her.

To read the rest of the translation you will have to read the book. Drout’s reading can be found here. The answers to these riddles can be found on line and in the back-matter of the book.

One of the great Old English poems is The Wanderer, a plum among the many and one that Greg Delanty plucks for himself — a substantial poem of loss, grief and the passage of time. We read a poet’s lament from a thousand years ago, thinking of his own sense of loss and how his own life briefly passed, and can’t help wonder at who will read our words a thousand years for now and wonder at the briefness of our own lives.  You can read his translation and hear the poet himself here.  The Ruin, translated by Yusef Komunyakaa, is another poem in a similar vein and puts our own sense of loss and time in perspective. I’m reminded of Frost’s The need to be versed in country things.

For a clear-eyed vision of death and decay, something the Anglo Saxons were well acquainted with,  read The Damned Soul Addresses the Body:

“Listen, mudball, how come you abused me?
You skinbag, all shriveled up at alst,
You paid little heed, in your hunt for pleasure,
To the hard future in store for your soul
Once it had been banished from the body.
Am I the offender? Isn’t it you, worm-fodder?

Or read The Riming Poem:

….The day for me     comes arrow-swift
With deadly aim     as it approaches,
And just the same     the night encroaches
That won’t condone     my tenant’s terms,
Abode of bone.   Wassailing worms
Feast afresh     where limbs lie slain
Devouring flesh:    only bones remain….

It’s humbling to read this passage. From our perspective the poet’s passing was a few words and silence. So were the thousand plus years between us and him; and so will be the next thousand years. That said, there’s a painting in Cornwall-on-Hudson. It might still be at the 2 Alices, one of my favorite cafés when visiting upstate New York. It says something like: Each minute, your life is a minute shorter. I thought about it and decided the minutes were more enjoyable if considered this way: With each minute, your life is a minute longer.

The Anglo Saxons had a word for the wondrous world, it’s Wundorworuld.

In the poem The Song of the Cosmos, not only does the poet convey their joy in the wondrous world, but one can’t help be reminded of Tennyson’s great poem Ulysses. The poem begins:

Wilt þu, fus hæle,    fremdne monnan,
wisne woðboran   wordum gretan,
fricgan felageongne   ymb forðgesceaft,
biddan þe gesecge    sidra gesceafta
cræftas cyndelice    cwichrerende,
þa þe dogra gehwam   þurh dom godes
bringe wundre fela    wera cneorissum!

Hard-striving soul, greet  the wayfaring stranger,
To the keen-sighted singer give welcoming words,
Question to the questing one of all the worlds before,
Implore him to tell of incalculable creations,
The innate artful forces forever quickening
That day after day under God’s dominion
Bring wonders laid bare to fairing generations.

When I read Shakespeare, I think that he had more in common with his hard-living and stern-skinned Old English forebears than with the prim and decorous Restoration poets who were to follow. The thing to know about the Anglo Saxons is that they are our poets. They are the first poets of our English language. They loved the same words we love. And if any of your ancestors are from the British Isles, the blood of these poets runs in your veins. When you read the poetry of the Anglo Saxons, you are truly reading the poetry of someone from whom you descend.

In some sense, what the Book of Songs is to the Chinese, the poetry of the Anglo-Saxon poems is to our culture. Read it and know what the first speakers of your language grieved, loved, laughed at, and enjoyed.

Further Links:

Vermont Poetry Update • April 6 2011

Vermont Poetry Update

[The Vermont Poetry Newsletter & Update is not issued by me but by Ron Lewis, by whose permission I post this. ]
  • Dear Poets: Two quality poetry events have come to my attention immediately following the last VPN (Vermont Poetry Newsletter). As the next VPN is planned for April 22 (estimated date), I felt you should be made aware of these unusually fine readings. ~ Ron Lewis

Sun, Apr 10: Misty Valley Books, Main Street – On The Green, Chester, 4:00 p.m..


Full House at Misty Valley Books

Susanne Dubroff and Chard deNiord. Don’t miss this reading by two wonderful poets. Susanne Dubroff will be reading from One Remaining Star, recently published by WordTech Editions, and is a second collection of poetry by Dubroff. Daughter of a German mother and Russian father, Dubroff’s family left pre-war Germany when Adolf Hitler, in his steady rise to power, declared Jews “staatenlos” (stateless).The family’s emigration followed a circuitous route, finally bringing them to America when Dubroff was 8 years old. Her twin mother-tongues, German and Hebrew, were only later followed by English, which her mother was never comfortable speaking, even in this country. Perhaps this early splicing of tongues was a contributing factor, Dubroff wonders, to her first becoming a translator of poetry (Rene Char, from the French; Gustavo Adolpho Becquer from 19th century Spanish) and then, a poet herself. One Remaining Star is a collection of poems that deserves to be read. Chard deNiord will be reading from The Double Truth, published in 2011 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. No less than Ruth Stone, Vermont’s current Poet Laureate, says, “Whether the language is rough and obscure or delicate and precise, this is Chard deNiord’s finest book. Philosophical and passionate, he poses this question: within the enigma of life, how can we know? And who will not remember the ecstasy of love when reading his lines” . . . We were in two places at once like a wire, stretched out between the cathodes of our desire. So bare and live the ether hummed like a swarm inside the air.” Peter Campion adds, “Very few contemporary poets render, as uniquely as Chard deNiord does, the sheer wonder of being. Our world shines up from his lines and sentences with all its original splendor and strangeness. In deNiord’s spectacular gaze, old binaries of reality and dream, bitterness and love, joke and revelation, fuse into a beautiful whole. deNiord is a visionary and The Double Truth is a vital book. Info, 875-3400,

Thu, Apr 28: St. Michael’s College, St. Edmund’s Hall, Farrell Room, 1 Winooski Park, Colchester, 7:00 p.m..

The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation. Join in a reading from The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, the acclaimed 2010 (Norton publishers) book co-edited by SMC poet/professor Greg Delanty. Poets included in the anthology who will read include David Cavanagh, Greg Delanty, Major Jackson, Jay Parini, and Elizabeth Powell. SMC Associate Professor of English Kerry Shea will read Old English versions of poems. Sponsored by The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW).

Ron Lewis
Editor, VPN

Vermont Poetry Newsletter & Event Calendar March 15 2009

[The Vermont Poetry Newsletter is not issued by me but by Ron Lewis, by whose permission I post this.]

Vermont Poetry Newsletter
Your Poetry & Spoken Word Gateway in the Green Mountain State

March 14, 2009 – In This Issue:

  1. Newsletter Editor’s Note/Notes to Otter Creek Poets
  2. Writing Assignments/Suggestions/Exercises/Prompts
  3. John Engels Memorial Reading
  4. April Ossmann
  5. New Vermont Lit Journal – The Queen City Review
  6. 2 Publications for Sale by PSOV
  7. Bowdoin College Poetry Link
  8. Burlington Poetry Journal – Mud Season 2009 Issue
  9. Red Hen Reading
  10. Greg Delanty
  11. White House Poetry Reading-2003
  12. Love and the Night Sky Poetry Contest
  13. All Around the World the Same Song
  14. “poet.” T-Shirt
  15. Joni B. Cole Writing Workshop
  16. This Week’s Review: Poetry Matters-NBCC Picks 2 Books
  17. Did You Know? Twitter Shuts Down Angelou Impostor
  18. Ponderings – Letter To The Editor
  19. Poetry Quote (Yevgeny Yevtushenko)
  20. US Poets Laureate List
  21. Linebreak Poem
  22. American Life in Poetry Poem
  23. Vermont Poets Past and Present Project
  24. Vermont Poet Laureates
  25. Contact Info for Publisher of VPN: Ron Lewis
  26. Year-Round Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  27. Other Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  28. Year-Round Poetry Writing Centers in Vermont
  29. Poetry Event Calendar

About the Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network

  • The Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network is made up of people of all backgrounds, ages and skills who appreciate the craft of poetry and want to promote it in the beautiful state of Vermont. The network consists of a free e-mail list, an eventual web site, workshops, open mics, poetry performances and other literary events.  The network provides opportunities to meet local poets, talk about and enjoy poetry, and motivate and inspire yourself in whatever writing projects you are involved.



Dear Friends of Poetry:

With National Poetry Month (April) right around the corner, be sure to clear your calendar for what should be a tremendous month of readings and activities.  Last year was truly unforgettable, with the written and spoken word gaining momentum year after year.  I hope many of you who receive the Vermont Poetry Newsletter will be reading, and if you do, please send me the information, and I will be glad to post it!

I know that many of you were chomping at the bit to get this latest copy of your VPN; thank you all for your patience and kind words.  My new job as General Manager of the Rutland Co-op has left me little time to attend to my favorite things in my personal life, but I will slowly make the necessary amendments to my schedule.  I happen to work at a place I love and which is important to our community, so it deserves all the attention I can give it without going absolutely crazy.  Sitting here writing to all the poets who receive and read the VPN is my therapy from going headlong into that craziness.  Thank you for your understanding.

As it turns out, I will be scheduling myself for a half-day at work on Thursdays so that I can get back to the Otter Creek Poets poetry workshop on Thursday afternoons.  If you’d like to join us, then meet us at the Middlebury public library, the Ilsley, between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 (parking in the rear).  Bring a poem to be read and critiqued.  See you there!

Ron Lewis
VPN Publisher



Assignment: Inspired by the I Ching
In the ancient Chinese divination practice of I Ching, one of the outcomes is this hexagram.

18. Ku / Work on what has been spoiled

Work on what has been spoiled
Has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Before the starting point, three days.
After the starting point, three days.

From a commentary on this image:

What has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. IT is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work and danger- symbolized by crossing of the great water-but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. This is expressed by the lines, “Before the starting point, three days. After the starting point, three days”….

Assignment: Think about your world, your life, your mind, your art.  Write a poem that works on what has been spoiled. For extra credit: Make it a true poem, not an exercise or a lark.

Good luck!



For those who missed the John Engels Memorial Reading, a St. Michaels College Lecture Series, you missed family and friends (David Huddle) reading many of John’s work, work that described our feelings for the man, the poet, the fly tyer and fly fisherman.  For a last time, we were again friends on the stream, casting to brookies, connected by our incredible love of words and beauty.

We’ll miss you, John!



Q&A: April Ossmann’s Alice James Fix by Kevin Larimer (For Poets & Writers)


April Ossmann recently stepped down as executive director of Alice James Books, the Farmington, Maine–based nonprofit cooperative poetry press founded in 1973; after more than eight years in the post, she left to begin working as a freelance editor and small press consultant. Carey Salerno has since been named acting director. The author of the poetry collection Anxious Music (Four Way Books, 2004), Ossmann spoke about her time at Alice James from her home in Post Mills, a snowy hamlet in eastern Vermont….



New Vermont Lit Journal
The Queen City Review

  • Burlington College’s Queen City Review, whose inaugural issue is labeled as Fall 2008, is a true Vermont gem, as much as is our fall foliage, or a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.  The founding editor, Heidi Berkowitz, who teaches in the college’s Interdisciplinary Studies program and coordinates its writing center, sent me three complementary copies, and I cherish each one.  Dartmouth lecturer Kevin McCarthy, who oversees the poetry, has gone out of his way to make ensure there are no loose gems in this first collection.  The familiar names, or at least they should be familiar to anyone who follows poetry closely, ring out clearly: poetry slam champ Geof Hewitt, fast-rising star Oregonian Matthew Dickman (he was just declared the winner of the 2009 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for his first book All-American Poem, which also won the APR/Honikman First Book Prize, and the inaugural awarding of the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences), and several others, including some nice surprises.  Between the lovely color cover, drawn by Aaron Mitton, and its last many brief bios, is a collection that will keep you entertained to the point of energizing you to submit your best unpublished work to them, or pick up your writer’s journal and get to it!  This is a lit journal that I will be glad to share with my close fellow poets, but one they will grudgingly give back to me. – Ron Lewis

Submission Guidelines

The Queen City Review is a yearly journal of art and literature and accepts the work of new and established writers and artists in the areas of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, photography, and fine art, as well as essays and criticism on all aspects of the aforementioned. They seek to publish high quality work that ranges broadly in topic and genre.

All submissions and queries should be emailed by April 20, 2009.

Their submission period is rolling and accepted writers and artists will be notified by email. All submissions must be in English, formatted in WORD or RTF, and previously unpublished. Please submit no more than three poems at a time, fiction and screenplays under 5000 words, and photography and artwork in JPEG format. Simultaneous submissions are also acceptable as long as they are notified immediately if the manuscript or artwork is accepted for publication elsewhere. Be sure to include phone, address, and e-mail contact information.

The Fall 2008 issue is on sale now. The 2009 issue is slated to come out in early autumn.



Support your state poetry association!
PSOV (Poetry Society of Vermont) has 2 current books available for sale

1) The Mountain Troubadour – 2008 – Curl up with 44 pages of interesting, award-winning poetry from a wonderful group of poets.  This book is only $8 (+$1 to mail).  To get yourself a copy, call or write to Betty Gaechter, 134 Hitzel Terrace, Rutland, VT 05701, 773-8679.  This little booklet may be just the thing to get you involved with the PSOV for a lifetime of friendships.
2) Brighten the Barn – 60th Anniversary Anthology – 1947-2007 – An Anthology of Poems by Members of the Poetry Society of Vermont.  99 pages of quality poetry; that’s a lot of beautiful poetry for only $12.  If you get it through me (Ron Lewis), it’s only $12.  If you want it shipped to you, the PSOV wants an extra amount to cover tax and shipping ($0.72 + $3.00).  This book retails for $15, but a reduced price is now in play to unload the few remaining copies.




Even though we’ve missed this live broadcast, you can still listen to it through internet magic and the link from Bowdoin College.  Follow the link below:

From the Fishouse and the Poetry Society of America (PSA) are pleased to present a reading by poets Carey McHugh and Lytton Smith, PSA’s 2008 New York Chapbook Fellows, this Thursday, February 26, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., which will be broadcast live on the Web:

Simply visit the above link any time after 7:30 and watch the reading as it happens from the comfort of wherever you may be.

For more information, and to listen to poems by McHugh and Smith, visit From the Fishouse:

Thank you,



Matt O’Donnell
Editor & Executive Director
From the Fishouse

Other webcasts at the Bowdoin College site are:

1) Poetry and Social Activism in Latin America
Enrique Yepes, Bowdoin’s Peter M. Small Associate Professor of Romance Languages, examines the vibrant emergence of new poetic voices in “Poetry and Social Activism in Latin America.”

2) Excerpts of Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha

February 27, 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Bowdoin Class of 1825, a native Mainer, and one of the College’s most illustrious graduates. The occasion is being celebrated on campus, locally, and around the country during the entire month of February. Among the holdings of the George J. Mitchell Archives & Special Collections in Bowdoin’s Hawthorne-Longfellow Library are various translations of Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” in six languages.


Burlington Poetry Journal
Mud Season Issue 2009

On Mar 3, 2009, at 10:15 PM, Editors wrote:

The Mud Season issue of the Burlington Poetry Journal is out.  Copies are in the usual Burlington locations now:  Uncommon Grounds, Muddy Waters, and Radio Bean.  We’ll be making runs to other locations, including Montpelier and Middlebury,  later this week and will e-mail exact locations when we know them.  We hope that you enjoy this issue.  Thanks again to each one of you.

Burlington Poetry Journal

PUBLISHER’S NOTE (RON): Congratulations to the rather exclusive list of poets who made it into this little lit journal.  These poets include Crow Cohen, Jesse Wide (2 poems), Emily Eschener, Caylin Capra-Thomas (2 poems), J.L. McCoy, Johanna Hiller, Ann Day, Suzanne Lunden, Elizabeth Melcher, Sarah Carpenter, Heather Tuck, David Weinstock, Ben Aleshire, Mike Wheeler, Ray Hudson (2 poems), and even Ron Lewis (me!)



National Poetry Month: April

Celebrate with us at the Red Hen

Sunday, April 26, 7:00 pm
Come and read poetry — your own or your
favorites — or listen to others.

More info? Call Earline at 223-6777



Sometimes we forget that we are blessed in this small state, beyond the natural beauty, maple syrup and autumn leaves.  I’m referring to all the wonderful poetry being read and written all around us.  Let’s not take for granted the great poets that make their homes in the state.  One such poet is Greg Delanty, who teaches at St. Michael’s College, Vermont.  For a part of the year he lives in Derrynane, County Kerry.  His recent books are The Ship of Birth (Carcanet Press 2003), The Blind Stitch (Carcanet) and The Hellbox (Oxford University Press 1998). His Collected Poems 1986-2006 is out from the Oxford Poet’s series of Carcanet Press.  He has received many awards, most recently a Guggenheim for poetry.  The Guggenheim is to assist him in with his next book of poems The Greek Anthology, Book XVII– a selection of his owm poem using the template of the sixteen books of The Greek Anthology.  I invite all of you to let Greg Delanty into your lives, to purchase one of his lovely books.  You know, as a general manager of a co-op, I find myself professing on buying local, sustaining the “little guy.”  In that same vein, I say to you, “keep your poetry purchases local.”  Here in Vermont, we have many “small farms” of poetry, many poets of distinction.  Support them by purchasing their books.  You can’t go wrong.  Try Greg for starters.



Remember this event?  My thanks to Galway Kinnell (see below).
POETRY REVIEW: Ambiguity Is a Guest At a Readers’ Evening
New York Times
February 19, 2003

[Extract] The event was called ”Poems Not Fit for the White House,” and the idea seemed simple enough: a few dozen poets went to Avery Fisher Hall on Monday night to read poems and express their opposition to an attack on Iraq.
This was an entertaining show, well packaged and paced, and the hall was nearly full, despite the blizzard. But all night an uncomfortable question hung in the air: Do poets have some sort of special moral authority? And if so, why? ….



  • Most poets I know have some poems dedicated to the topic of the night sky.  Being an amateur astronomer myself, I can’t help but write about all the wonders I see through my telescopes.  I happened across a very interesting poetry contest in Maine that some of you might want to explore further.

The Southworth Planetarium at the University of Southern Maine presents

AMOR ET ASTRA: A Poetry Contest on the theme “Love and the Night Sky.” Deadline April 1, 2009.

Love comes in many forms, and there are no restrictions – the love in the poem might be for a parent or a place, a friend or even for the sky itself. (Adult poets are asked to keep their poems PG-rated.) Prizes will be given in the following age categories: Grade 4 and younger; Grades 5 through 8; Grades 8 through 12; Adult. Winning poets will receive: An invitation to read publicly Friday, May 1, at “Beltane Fires,” one of three annual poetry events held at the planetarium; a commemorative booklet of poetry from the contest. (By entering the contest, you agree to permit Southworth Planetarium to publish your work in this booklet.) How to enter: Each poet enter up to three poems. The entry fee, which benefits educational programs at the planetarium, is $2 per poem or three for $5. Poems will not be submitted for judging until the fee is received. All entry fees must be submitted by check or money order to the address below. Please indicate clearly name of the poet. Poets may submit work electronically to: in Word, Rich Text Format (RTF), plain text or in the body of an e-mail. Poets may also submit work on paper to: Poetry Contest, c/o Southworth Planetarium, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300. Questions, contact Planetarium Manager Edward Gleason,, Jane Raeburn,



All Around the World the Same Song
How globe-trotting poetries may not beat scrawls in a cave.


[Extract] A few years ago, when I gave a reading at one of a series of conferences an old friend of mine organizes for people from various fields—scientists, inventors, architects, designers, show-biz folk, and even one poet, me—my friend said to the audience, after I was finished, something about how moved he was to think of all the years I’d spent, had to spend, working by myself, all alone and, he implied, lonely. I was startled: I’m quite a gregarious person, and sometimes I do become lonely, but it’s something that never happens to me during the hours I’m at work. When I’m at my desk, my room is filled, overflowing with the presence of a vast number of poets I love, and some others I don’t know at all, whose books or poems have recently arrived but who are there waiting for me to become acquainted with and possibly love, too. ….




For those duotrope fans, or for poets in general, duotrope has a great shirt that has the design “poet.” on the shirt face.  If you’re interested, go to:



How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier Workshop at the Grist Mill

Joni B. Cole will be returning to Chester on Sunday, March 29th to facilitate another incredible workshop at the Grist Mill Wellness Center on Route 103.

How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier: Workshop Intensive, will take place from 10 am to 4 pm in the beautiful Sun Room at the Grist Mill.

This fun, interactive session will feed your creative process, help you sharpen your writing skills, and push you to start a new piece or make solid progress on an existing work.  You’ll be doing in-class writing exercises to uncover new material and overcome blocks.  You’re also encouraged to bring in a work-in-progress (up to four double-spaced pages) to read aloud to the group for constructive feedback and appreciation.

Open to beginners or experienced writers.  Limited enrollment.  Preregistration required.  Recommended reading: Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive (available wherever books are sold, or $17 at the workshop).

Joni Cole is the author of Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive.  “Strongly recommended” by Library Journal for all writers, teachers, and workshop participants, the book also earned praise from American Book Review, which reported, “I can’t imagine a better guide to (writing’s) rewards and perils than this fine book.”

Joni is also the creator of the acclaimed This Day book series, including the recent release Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work, described as “both fascinating and eye-opening” by Publisher’s Weekly.  Joni’s essays appear in literary journals, and in her monthly newspaper column “Life as I Know It.”  She is also a contributor to The Writer magazine, and is the co-founder of The Writer’s Center of White River Junction, Vermont,

For more information, visit or

Please call or email Joni at 295-5526 or email with questions about the workshop content.

Registration is required.  Please send your name, phone number, email address along with a $20 check made out to Joni B. Cole to R. Salem, 693 Lovers Lane, Chester, VT 05143 to reserve your spot.  A confirmation letter and schedule will be sent upon receipt of your deposit.




Poetry Matters: NBCC Chooses Two Books for Award

[Extract] When the National Book Critics Circle announced its annual award in poetry yesterday, two poets shared the honor — a situation new to the NBCC but resulting from strong feelings for both books among the selection committee members. The co-winners were Juan Felipe Herrera’s Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems(University of Arizona Press) and August Kleinzahler’s Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Farrar, Strauss), which the NBCC called “capstone books to important careers—works that were resonant, weighty, and accomplished.”


Did You Know?

Twitter Shuts Down Angelou Impostor

[Extract] The Twitter user claiming to be Maya Angelou has come clean as an impostor, David Sarno reported yesterday on the L.A. Times technology blog. Several weeks after Angelou’s agent, David LaCamera, discovered the fraudulent account and alerted Twitter, the impersonator, whose tweets were followed by 2,495 Twitter users, revealed himself yesterday as a twenty-year-old male artist named Lee….




Letter to the Editor

[Extract] I was interested in your November portfolio of visual poetry. I believe that visual poetry began with the invention of the printing press. Writers were challenged to work within the confines of what the press would allow, just as today they are challenged to work within the confines of the computer….



‘Poetry is like a bird;
it ignores all frontiers.”

Poetry Quote by Yevgeny Yevtushenko



Poets Laureate of the U.S.A.

  • A Net-annotated list of all the poets who have served the Library of Congress as Consultant (the old title) or Poet Laureate Consultant (the new title). Biographies & general reference sites are linked to the poets’ names — for the recent Laureates these are our own poet profiles with book-buying links at the bottom. Many of the other linked biographies are pages from the Academy of American Poets’ Find a Poet archive, a growing & invaluable resource. If there is no general information site about the poet, we have searched the Net for sample poems or other writings or recordings & listed those below the poet’s name.



Linebreak is an online journal with a bias for good poetry. Here is a link to this week’s featured poem:

Argument From Design by T.R. Hummer



American Life in Poetry: Column 207


People singing, not professionally but just singing for joy, it’s a wonderful celebration of life. In this poem by Sebastian Matthews of North Carolina, a father and son happen upon a handful of men singing in a cafe, and are swept up into their pleasure and community.

Barbershop Quartet,  East Village Grille

Inside the standard lunch hour din they rise, four
seamless voices fused into one, floating somewhere
between a low hum and a vibration, like the sound
of a train rumbling beneath noisy traffic.
The men are hunched around a booth table…. [Extract]




I’m looking for a copy of:

1) The Literature of Vermont: A Sampler – FOUND!
2) Poets and Poetry of Vermont, by Abby Maria Hemenway, 1858
3) “Driftwood,” a poetry magazine begun in 1926 by Walter John Coates
If you have any books of poetry, chapbooks, or just poems written by Vermont poets, dating 1980 and earlier, famous or not, I’d like to know about them.  I’m beginning a project that deals strictly with Vermont poets, from Vermont’s past, with summaries of the poets themselves, a portrait photo or drawing of the poet, along with a small sampling of poems.  If you think you can help, you probably can!  Please contact me by replying to this newsletter.

Ronald Lewis



1) Robert Frost – 1961
2) Galway Kinnell
3) Louis Glück
4) Ellen Bryant Voigt
5) Grace Paley
6) Ruth Stone



If you ever have a need to contact me, here’s how to go about doing so:

Ronald Lewis:
Phone: 802-247-5913
Cell: 802-779-5913
Home: 1211 Forest Dale Road, Brandon, VT 05733




1) Great River Arts Institute – See details elsewhere in this newsletter

2) Poetry Workshop at Village Square Booksellers with Jim Fowler (no relation to owner Pat).  The goal of this course is to introduce more people to the art of writing poetry and will include a discussion of modern poetry in various forms and styles. Each week, the course will provide time to share and discuss participant’s poetry. Students should bring a poem and copies to the first class. The course will be limited to 5 to 8 students to allow adequate time to go through everyone’s poetry contributions and will meet in the cafe at Village Square Booksellers. James Fowler, of Charlestown, New Hampshire, has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a major in Nature Writing. He was the editor of Heartbeat of New England, a poetry anthology. Fowler has been widely published since 1998 in such journals as Connecticut Review, Quarterly of Light Verse, and Larcom Review. Fowler is a founding member of the River Voices Writer’s Circle, and a regular reader at Village Square Booksellers-River Voices Poetry Readings. The fee for this 6 week Workshop is $100, payable to Mr. Fowler at the first class. Pre-registration for the Poetry Workshop is suggested and may be made by calling Village Square Booksellers at 802-463-9404 or by email at or


The Guilford Poets Guild, formed in 1998, meets twice a month to critique and support each other’s work.  Their series of sponsored readings by well-known poets which began at the Dudley Farm, continues now at the Women and Family Life Center.


1) The Otter Creek Poets offer a poetry workshop every Thursday afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00 in the basement meeting room of the Ilsley Public Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury.  This workshop, the largest and oldest of its kind in the state, has been meeting weekly for 13 years.  Poets of all ages and styles come for peer feedback, encouragement, and optional weekly assignments to get the poetry flowing.  Bring a poem or two to share (plus 20 copies).  The workshops are led by David Weinstock.  There is considerable parking available behind the library, or further down the hill below that parking lot.  For more information, call David at 388-6939 or Ron Lewis at 247-5913.


This group meets on the first Sunday of every month at the Norwich Library, 6:30 p.m.


The Wayside Poets share their poetry publicly from time to time.  They meet at the Cutler Memorial Library, 151 High Street, Plainfield.  Members include Diane Swan, Sherry Olson, Carol Henrikson and Sarah Hooker.  You can contact them through Sherry Olson at: or 454-8026.


There is another poetry workshop happening in Stowe, but unfortunately I know nothing much about this group.  If you do, contact me!


The Mad River Poets consists of a handful of poets from the Route 100 corridor.  More on this group in the future.




Scribes in the making put pen to paper as part of an open verse-writing session at the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College Street.  Three consecutive Thursdays, starting January 8, 2009, 5:00-6:00 p.m.  Free.  Contact information: 862-1094.


Thinking Like a Poetry Editor:  How to Be Your Own Best Critic – Note: Course is Filled!
(“The Ossmann Method” Poetry Workshop – Crash Course)

The following event has already happened, but I’ve listed it here because it will probably be held again in 2010.

The Ossmann Method Poetry Workshop: Building Your Tool Kit
Instructor: April Ossmann

Build or improve your poetic techniques tool kit and learn how to think like a poetry editor!  In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. This workshop will be both critical and generative, so I will assign reading and generative exercises meant to teach or improve writing skills. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8 (minimum enrollment for the course to proceed is 4). Info: (802) 333-9597 or and

Note: If you know of any others, or have personal information about the workshop in Stowe and Guilford, please send me that information.  I realize that there are several smaller groups or workshops around the state.  However, because of their intimacy, they are not posted above, allowing them to offer “memberships” to close friends or acquaintances that they feel would be most appropriate.





The Writer’s Center is for serious writers and nervous beginners. It’s for procrastinators who could benefit from regular deadlines – and for the prolific who could benefit from quality feedback. It’s for anyone with a manuscript hidden in a drawer, or a life story or poem waiting to be written. It’s for people who don’t know where to start or how to end. And for writers who are doing just fine on their own, but would like the company of other writers.  The Writer’s Center is for anyone who is writing or wants to write.  One of the Center’s consultants is April Ossman (  Founded by Joni B. Cole and Sarah Stewart Taylor, the Writer’s Center offers instruction and inspiration through a selection of workshops, discussions, and community. We would love to see you – and your writing – at The Writer’s Center!  For more info,


Women Writing for (a) Change supports the authentic experience of women who honor themselves through creative writing.  Our community supports reflection as we move into our questions and awaken to change.  Participants enhance expressive skills, strengthen their voices, deepen themselves as women as writers for positive change in all spheres of life.  Creative writing in all genres is our shared vehicle.  Women Writing for (a) Change is for women who, 1) dream of writing for self-discovery, for personal or social healing, 2) hunger for creative process in their lives, 3) yearn to explore their feminine voice, 4) crave reflective, space, and 5) are in transition.  For more information, go to their web site at or contact Sarah Bartlett at either 899-3772 or




  • Below please find the most current list of poetry happenings in Vermont for the near future.  Please be aware that these events can be found on, but there is usually additional information that is typed here that would be cumbersome to place on  Please note all events are Vermont-based unless they are of extreme importance or happen to lie just outside our borders.  If you would like to save on paper and ink, please just highlight what you need, or perhaps only events for the coming month, and print that information.

Poetry EventSat, Mar 14: 51 Main, At The Bridge, Middlebury, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Poetry Readings.  Featuring a collection of student-poets from Champlain and Middlebury Colleges.  For info, 388-8209.

Wed, Mar 18: Monkey House, 30 Main Street, Winooski, 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.  Poetry Reading.  A new place for poets to read and hear new work.  This is a continuing series happening on alternate Wednesdays.

Thu, Mar 19: Parima, 185 Pearl Street, Burlington, 8:45 p.m. -10:00 p.m.  Poetry Jam.  This is a continuing series, happening on alternate Thursdays.

Sat, Mar 21: Cutler Memorial Library, 151 High Street, Plainfield, 11:00 a.m.  Poetry Morning.First Day of Spring, poems with Cora Brooks.  For info, Mary Wheeler, Librarian,, 454-8504.

Wed, Mar 25: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s spring poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Thu, Apr 2: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Rosanna Warren to read.  Rosanna Warren was born in Connecticut in 1953. She was educated at Yale (BA 1976) and Johns Hopkins (MA 1980). She is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981), and three collections of poems:  Each Leaf Shines Separate (Norton, 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993, Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets), and Departure (Norton, 2003).  She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation:  Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, among others.  She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

Fri, Apr 3: Misty Valley Books, On The Green, Chester, 7:00 p.m. Celebrate Poetry Month with Two Celebrated Poets: Wendy Mnookin and Baron Wormser.  In her book, The Moon Makes It’s Own Plea, Mnookin explores the idea of self and how that self is strengthened and abraded by relationships. Anchored in everyday life, the narrative is fluid and the poems coalesce around the condition of mortality. Her poems probe this question with bravado, defiance, fear, anger, humor and hope. Mnookin graduated from Radcliffe College and the Vermont College MFA Program. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.  For info, 875-3400.

Sun, Apr 5: Plymouth State University, Smith Recital Hall, Johnson, NH, 7:00 p.m.  Poet Wesley McNair.  2008 – 2009 Eagle Pond Author’s Series.  Wesley McNair is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations and a United States Artists Fellowship to “America’s finest living artists.” Other honors include the Robert Frost Prize; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry (for Fire); the Theodore Roethke prize from Poetry Northwest; the Pushcart Prize and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal.  McNair is currently Professor Emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine at Farmington.  Free.  (603) 535-5000 to reserve spaces.

Tue, Apr 8: Middlebury College, Axinn Center Abernathy Room, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.  Reading by Major Jackson.  Sponsored by Creative Writing Program, The Office for Institutional Planning and Diversity and The Academic Enrichment Fund.  For info, 443-5276.

Sat, Apr 11: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, Apr 14: Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m.  12th Annual Open Poetry.  Yes, we have been doing this for twelve years, and the event never fails to draw a lively crowd of bards. You do need to sign up, and you do need to limit your poetry to five minutes. Sign up by phone (802) 229-0774 or come into the store and put your name on the list.

Wed, Apr 15: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s spring poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Sat, Apr 18: Cutler Memorial Library, 151 High Street, Plainfield, 11:00 a.m.  Poetry Morning.  Poems with Phyllis Larabee.  For info, Mary Wheeler, Librarian,, 454-8504.

Mon, Apr 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Eric Pankey to read.  Eric Pankey is the author of six books of poetry: Reliquaries, Cenotaph, The Late Romances, Apocrypha, Heartwood and For the New Year. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a NEA Fellowship, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, and an Ingram Merrill Grant. His work has appeared in many journals, including Partisan Review, The New Yorker, Triquarterly, DoubleTake and The New England Review. He teaches at George Mason University and lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Thu, Apr 23: Middlebury College, Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  A talk by Adina Hoffman, on her new book, My Happiness Bears no Relation to Happiness: Poet Taha Muhammad Ali and the Palestinian Century, (Yale University Press), the first biography of a Palestinian poet, and the first portrayal of Palestinian literature and culture in the 20th Century. Sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Middle East Studies Program.  For info, 443-5151, E-mail:

Wed, May 6: Shoreham Historical Society, Shoreham.  David Weinstock, Director of the Otter Creek Poets, will be reading from his collection of poetry.  More details as I learn them.
Sat, May 9: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, May 12: The Galaxy Bookshop, 7 Mill Street, Hardwick, 7:00 p.m.  Poet Jody Gladding will be at The Galaxy Bookshop to read from and sign copies of her new book, Rooms and Their Airs.Drawn from the environments of northern Vermont and the South of France, the poems in “Rooms and Their Airs” explore the interface of the human and natural worlds, further eroding that distinction with each poem. The verse here merges subject and object, often giving voice to natural phenomena — a vernal pool, a fossil, a beam of light. These poems sparkle with humor, sophisticated word play, and intellectual examination, reflecting an elegant and contagious curiosity about history, language, and the world. Linked poems give voice to garden vegetables while drawing inspiration from the archival illustrations in “The Medieval Handbook.” A mother and daughter’s trip to see France’s cave paintings uncovers living vestiges in prehistoric depictions and reaffirms the enduring nature of art. With this collection, Jody Gladding cements her reputation as the literary heir to A. R. Ammons, Gustaf Sobin, and Lorine Niedecker.

Wed, May 13: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s spring poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Thu, May 14: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Michael Harper to read.  Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1938. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from what is now known as California State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Brown since 1970.  Harper has published more than 10 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985). A new poetry collection, Use Trouble, is forthcoming in fall 2008 from The University of Illinois Press.  His other collections include Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History Is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award.  Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979).  Harper was the first poet laureate of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Harper is also a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, and the recipient of numerous distinctions, including the Robert Hayden Poetry Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Melville-Cane Award, the Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award.

Mon, Jun 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Eamon Grennan to read.  Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated at UCD, where he studied English and Italian, and Harvard, where he received his PhD in English. His volumes of poetry include What Light There Is & Other Poems, (North Point Press, 1989), Wildly for Days (1983), What Light There Is (1987), As If It Matters (1991), So It Goes (1995), Selected and New Poems (2000) and Still Life with Waterfall (2001). His latest collection, The Quick of It, appeared in 2004 in Ireland, and in Spring 2005 in America. His books of poetry are published in the United States by Graywolf Press, and in Ireland by Gallery Press. Other publications include Leopardi: Selected Poems (Princeton 1997), and Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century, a collection of essays on modern Irish poetry. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in many magazines both in Ireland and the US.  Grennan has given lectures and workshops in colleges and universities in the US, including courses for the graduate programs in Columbia and NYU. During 2002 he was the Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University. His grants and prizes in the United States include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Leopardi: Selected Poems received the 1997 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and Still Life with Waterfall was the recipient of the 2003 Lenore Marshall Award for Poetry from the American Academy of Poets. His poems have been awarded a number of Pushcart prizes. Grennan has taught since 1974 at Vassar College where he is the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English.

Wed, Jun 10: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s spring poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Sat, Jun 13: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Thu, Jul 9: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Michael Ryan to read.  Michael Ryan has published three collections of poetry, including In Winter, Threats Instead of Trees, has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and God Hunger, as well as A Difficult Grace: On Poets, Poetry, and Writing, and the memoir Secret Life. His work has appeared in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, New Republic, and elsewhere. Ryan has been honored by the Lenore Marshall Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and a Guggenheim. Ryan is Professor of English and Creative Writing at UC, Irvine.

Sat, Jul 11: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Mon, Jul 27: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Doreen Gilroy to read.  Doreen Gilroy’s first book, The Little Field of Self  (The University of Chicago Press, 2002), won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares.  Her second book, Human Love, was published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2005.  Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Slate, TriQuarterly and many other magazines.

Sat, Aug 8: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Mon, Aug 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Cole Swensen to read.  Cole Swensen is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver. She is the author of five collections of poems, including Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Poetry Prize; Noon (Sun and Moon Press, 1997), which won a New American Writing Award; and Numen (Burning Deck Press, 1995) which was nominated for the PEN West Award in Poetry. Her translations include Art Poetic’ by Olivier Cadiot (Sun & Moon Press, Green Integer Series, 1999) and Natural Gaits by Pierre Alferi (Sun & Moon, 1995). She splits her time among Denver, San Francisco and Paris.

Thu, Sep 3: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Marge Piercy to read.  Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and most recently her 17th volume, The Crooked Inheiritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently SEX WARS in Perennial paperback now.  Her memoir Sleeping With Cats is also in Harper Collins Perennial.  Last spring, Schocken published Pesach for the Rest of Us.  Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD Louder We Can’t Hear You Yet contains her political and feminist poems. She has been an editor of Leapfrog Press for the last ten years and also poetry editor of Lilith.

Sat, Sep 12: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Thu, Oct 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Pattiann Rogers to read.  Pattiann Rogers has published ten books of poetry, a book-length essay, The Dream of the Marsh Wren, and A Covenant of Seasons, poems and monotypes, in collaboration with the artist Joellyn Duesberry. Her 11th  book of poetry, Wayfare, will appear from Penguin in April, 2008.   Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2005 Literary Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation, and five Pushcart Prizes.  In the spring of 2000 she was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy.  Her papers are archived in the Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community and the Natural World at Texas Tech University.  She has taught as a visiting professor at various universities, including the Universities of Texas, Arkansas, and Montana, Houston University, and Washingon University.  She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University’s MFA in Writing Program.  Rogers has two sons and three grandsons and lives with her husband in Colorado.

Sat, Oct 10: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, Oct 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Major Jackson to read.  “Jackson knows the truth of black magic. It is a magic as simple as the belief in humanity that subverts racism, or the esoteric and mystical magic of making jazz, the music of hope and love.” —Aafa Weaver.  Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, Hoops (Norton: 2006), a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry. and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.  Poems by Major Jackson have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, Post Road, Triquarterly, The New Yorker, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.  Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. In 2006-2007, he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Sat, Nov 14: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, Nov 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Sebastian Matthews to read.  Sebastian Matthews is the author of the poetry collection We Generous (Red Hen Press) and a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps (W. W. Norton).  He co-edited, with Stanley Plumly, Search Party: Collected Poem s of William Matthews. Matthews teaches at Warren Wilson College and serves on the faculty at Queens College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry and prose has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, New England, Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Seneca Review, The Sun, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Writer’s Almanac, among others. Matthews co-edits Rivendell, a place-based literary journal, and serves as poetry consultant for Ecotone:
Re-Imagining Place.

Sat, Dec 12: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail or call (802) 463-9404.


Mon, Feb 22: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet David Shapiro to read.  David Shapiro (born January 2, 1947) is an American poet, literary critic, and art historian and . Shapiro has written some twenty volumes of poetry, literary, and art criticism. He was first published at the age of thirteen, and his first book was published at the age of eighteen. Shapiro has taught at Columbia, Bard College, Cooper Union, Princeton University, and William Paterson University. He wrote the first monograph on John Ashbery, the first book on Jim Dine’s paintings, the first book on Piet Mondrian’s flower studies, and the first book on Jasper Johns’ drawings. He has translated Rafael Alberti’s poems on Pablo Picasso, and the writings of the Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Shapiro has won National Endowment for the HumanitiesNational Endowment for the Arts fellowships, been nominated for a National Book Award, and been the recipient of numerous grants for his work. Shapiro lives in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York City, with his wife and son.

  • Again, if you become aware of an event that isn’t posted above, please let me know. My apologies if I have left off anything of importance to any of you, but it can always be corrected in the next Vermont Poetry Newsletter.

our finitude as human beings
is encompassed by the infinity of language
Hans-Georg Gadamer

Your fellow Poet,

Ron Lewis