Vermont Arts Council

Vermont Poet Laureate

Vermont has a rich poetic tradition and throughout its history has produced numerous nationally recognized poets, so stated the 77th Governor of Vermont Madeleine Kunin by Executive Order in 1988 establishing the position of Vermont Poet Laureate. Kunin re-established the position, which was first held by Robert Frost in 1961.

Serving as Vermont’s ambassador for the art of poetry, the Poet Laureate is not only honored for their own work and accomplishments but can raise awareness and a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The Vermont Poet Laureate is a four-year term. Bianca Stone of Brandon, VT is the current Poet Laureate. Poets Mary Ruefle, Chard deNiord, Sydney Lea, Ruth Stone, Grace Paley, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Louise Glück, and Galway Kinnell have also held the position. Read about the previous Vermont Poet Laureates.

The Vermont Poets Laureate

Bianca Stone (2024-2028)

Bianca Stone of Brandon is the author of five books, including the poetry collections, What is Otherwise Infinite (Tin House, 2022), winner of the 2022 Vermont Book Award; The Möbius Strip Club of Grief (Tin House, 2018); and Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Octopus Books and Tin House, 2014). She collaborated with Anne Carson on the illuminated version of Antigonick (New Directions, 2012). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poets and Writers, The Nation, and elsewhere. She co-founded the poetry-based nonprofit Ruth Stone House, where she teaches classes on poetry and poetic study and hosts the Ode & Psyche Podcast, and is editor-at-large for ITERANT magazine. Read our press release and the Governor’s proclamation.

Mary Ruefle (2019-2024)

Mary Ruefle seen from the shoulders up, resting her chin in her hand.
Photo by Michelle Eikenbary.

Mary Ruefle is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and erasures, including Dunce (2019), which was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including 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. In 2020, she was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Read our features about Mary Ruefle.

Chard deNiord (2015-2019)

Chard deNiord seen from the neck up.Chard deNiord published his first poetry collection, Asleep in the Fire (1990), while teaching comparative religions and philosophy at the Putney School in Putney, Vermont. He has since published six other poetry collections and two collections of essays and interviews with eminent American poets. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and his poems have been included in anthologies including Best American Poetry (1999) and American Poetry Now (2007). He co-founded the New England College Master of Fine Arts program in poetry. In 2022, he was named a Fellow of Vermont’s Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sydney Lea (2011-2015)

Sydney Lea seen from the shoulders up in a plaid shirt.
Photo by M. Robin Barone.

Sydney Lea is the author of numerous books of poetry, a novel, and several nonfiction collections. His poetry collection Pursuit of a Wound (2000) was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the co-founder of the New England Review, a nationally-recognized literary magazine. His honors include fellowships from the Fulbright Association, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio Center), as well as the 1998 Poets’ Prize. He is a trustee emeritus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Ruth Stone (2007-2011)

Ruth Stone seen from the neck up, smiling off camera.
Photo by Sahara Najat Croll.

Ruth Stone was the author of thirteen books of poetry, including What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems (2008), a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; In the Next Galaxy (2002), which received the 2002 National Book Award; and Ordinary Words (1999), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Among Stone’s other awards are two Guggenheim Fellowships, The Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Vermont Cerf Award for lifetime achievement in the arts. A Vermont resident since 1957, Stone died at her home in Ripton, Vermont, on November 19, 2011 at the age of 96.

Grace Paley (2003-2007)

Grace Paley seen from the neck up, looking off camera.Grace Paley was a celebrated author of short stories, poems, and nonfiction. Her poetry collections include Leaning Forward (1985), Begin Again (1992) and Fidelity (2008—posthumous). She wrote three critically acclaimed collections of short stories, which were compiled in the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist The Collected Stories in 1994. Paley was a notable peace activist, committed to anti-war movements throughout her lifetime. During the war in Vietnam, Paley joined the War Resisters League, and traveled to Hanoi in 1969 on a peace mission attempting to free prisoners of war. In 1978, she was arrested for covering part of the White House lawn with an anti-nuclear weapons banner. Paley’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1967, the Edith Wharton Award in 1983, and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in the Literary Arts in 1994. She lived in New York City and in Thetford, Vermont, where she died on August 22, 2007.

Ellen Bryant Voigt (1999-2002)

Ellen Bryant Voigt seen in profile speaking into a microphone.
Photo by Nancy Crampton.

Ellen Bryant Voigt has published six collections of poetry and a collection of craft essays. Her poetry collection Shadow of Heaven (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Kyrie (1995) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her collection Messenger (2008) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2003 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2015, Voigt was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

Louise Glück (1994-1998)

Louise Gluck seen from the waist up.
Photo by Gasper Tringale.

Louise Glück is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014), which won the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry, The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Kane Award. The recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, Glück was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999. Glück was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2003 to 2004.

Galway Kinnell (1989-1993)

Galway Kinnell seen from the shoulders up, smiling at the camera.
Photo by Richard W. Brown.

Galway Kinnell was an award-winning poet best known for poetry that connects the experiences of daily life to much larger poetic, spiritual, and cultural forces. Kinnell’s Selected Poems (1982) won the Pulitzer Prize and was co-winner of the National Book Award in 1983. A follower of Walt Whitman, he edited The Essential Whitman (1987). Other well-known Kinnell works include The Book of Nightmares (1971) and The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World: Poems 1946-1964 (1974). He was a Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets. Kinnell died October 28, 2014 at his home in Sheffield, Vermont at the age of 87.

Robert Frost (1961-1963)

Robert Frost seen from the waist up, reading from a paper.One of the most celebrated figures in American poetry, Robert Frost was the author of numerous poetry collections. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early 20th century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. By the 1920s, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new book—including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)—his fame and honors, including four Pulitzer Prizes, increased. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1962 for his poetic works. Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont and died in Boston on January 29, 1963.

Desmond Peeples August 2, 2023