Vermont Arts Council

Vermont’s Poet Laureate

We are delighted to announce that Mary Ruefle will succeed Chard deNiord as Vermont poet laureate beginning October 28, 2019.

Nationally acclaimed Vermont author Major Jackson called Mary “one of the best poets in America,” and reflected that “one travels places, inward and outward” through her work. Critic Lisa Beskin of the Boston Review observed “Like John Ashbery and James Tate, Mary Ruefle investigates the multiplicities and frailties of being with an associative inventiveness and a lightness of touch; the purposefulness of her enquiry never eclipses the remarkable beauty of her work.” Committee members commended Mary’s originality, imaginative writing, and wit. They agreed that she is a poet “at the height of her powers,” making her nomination as Vermont’s Poet Laureate in 2019 timely and appropriate.

Mary is a graduate of Bennington College and a resident of Bennington. She has won critical acclaim for her ten books of poetry and several collections of prose, including Dunce (Wave Books, forthcoming 2019); My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016); Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013); Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism; and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the prestigious William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has also published a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed! (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007). Mary is an erasure artist as well; her treatments of nineteenth-century texts have been widely exhibited. The poet’s numerous honors include the Robert Creeley Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She currently serves as a visiting poet at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

A Song of Life. of, core (the heart of it) courage (boldness of heart)
Source: Poetry (December 2016)

This is a four-year appointment made by the governor following the recommendation of a distinguished panel employing these criteria:

The Vermont poet laureate is a person who

  • has Vermont as a primary residence
  • whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence
  • who has produced a critically acclaimed body of work
  • who has a long association with Vermont

The poet laureate serves as an ambassador for the art of poetry, participating from time to time in public events, ceremonies, and readings within Vermont and, as appropriate, sharing poetry with a broad audience. The Arts Council provides an honorarium of $2,000, with thanks to the Poetry Society of Vermont and to Sundog Poetry Center, Inc. for the generous contributions that make this possible.

Previous poets laureate are Chard DeNiord (2015-2019), Sydney Lea (2011-2015), Ruth Stone (2007-2011), Grace Paley (2003- 2007), Ellen Bryant Voigt (1999-2002), Louise Gluck (1994-1998), Galway Kinnell (1989-1993), and Robert Frost (1961-1963).

—Top left photo by Matt Valentine.
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