Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Diana Lischer

46: Diana Lischer

Create a first draft of an historical novel set in 1860’s Vermont

Diana Lischer’s poetry has appeared in the Anthology of New England Writers, Vermont Almanac: Stories about and from the land, Vermont Life, Larcom Review, Buffalo Bones, and others.

In 2012, Diana won Vermont Life’s Ralph Nadding Hill Award for her poem, “Dreaming of Apples”, with honorarium from Green Mountain Power Corporation. She has read her commentaries on Vermont Public Radio. For several years, she wrote an arts and literary column for the Brattleboro Reformer, interviewing artists and writers, including former Poet Laureate Donald Hall. Her commentaries have also appeared in The Commons Newspaper, Windham County.

With support from Great River Arts Institute and a Vermont Arts Council grant, she studied with Former Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNoird, Thomas Lux and Former Vermont Poet Laureate Ellen Bryant Voigt in Patzcuaro, Mexico. She has read her work at libraries, bookstores, etc.

Project description

Freestone is an historical novel set in 1860’s Vermont. My intent with this novel is to create a strong female character who is brave and independent and describe her perspective through the experience of women’s issues, biracial identity, Vermont history, racism and the Vermont abolition movement. The work recreates a town which has lost its identity and brings to life Vermont in the 1860’s and Vermont’s legislative history on the issue of slavery at a time of American divisiveness. These issues are all timely during America’s cultural upheaval with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Black Lives Matter, etc.

This project will create a first draft of a completed manuscript of an historical novel called Freestone set primarily in Vermont, with themes of biracial identity, women’s liberation in the 1800’s, the Underground Railroad and the historical role of soapstone mining. The title of the novel, Freestone, has a double meaning both. as another common name for soapstone as well as evoking the novel’s theme of freedom along the Underground Railroad.

I will include some of my original poetry included as well as references to historic quotes from the Vermont Legislature, historic characters such as Frederic Douglass and traditional songs from the 1800’s. Some poetry was inspired by graveyards in the village of Cambridgeport, Vermont where I have recreated the village into my imaginary town of Freestone. Another poem was inspired by a gravestone I found in Windsor, Vermont.

With many chapters drafted over many years with the story jumping around generations of characters from the 1700’s to the 1800’s, I am ready to piece them together with new linking chapters, develop characters more fully, edit, and expand chapters to create a multi-level, multi-generational novel. This draft of a cohesive manuscript will then be ready for reading in public and to be sent out for publication.

Media Samples

Excerpts of Freestone, a novel. “These are excerpts of the novel showing my writing.”


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Acadia Klepeis August 23, 2023