Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry, Third Edition

With its mystical landscape and fiercely self-reliant citizenry, Vermont has inspired poets from its earliest days. This anthology of contemporary Vermont poets represents a wide range of accomplished voices—both young and old, both renowned and relatively unestablished. Their poems reverberate with what W. H. Auden called “memorable speech” in a wide variety of forms and subjects. While there is no such thing as a particular brand of Vermont poetry, the poems in this volume claim Vermont as their place of origin, bearing witness to the remarkably rich and ongoing legacy of the state’s poetic tradition.

In this third edition of Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry, we have added thirty-six new poets. In the four years since the last edition of Roads Taken was published in 2018, many accomplished emerging and established poets have either published books of poetry or moved to Vermont. The poems of the three-dozen new poets in this third edition not only complement their fellow Vermont poets with new vibrant and visionary voices but testify to Vermont’s ongoing poetic tradition as one of the richest in the country.

“Vermont tempts poets to epiphany by staying silent, or cold, or flinty, or dark ironizes their praise. Many people move to Vermont because of the idea of it, an idea that has proven remarkably durable over time: as these poems suggest, so powerfully do the daily necessities of living there, of surviving there, assert themselves. This is where Frost comes in: Frost’s poems are the great rural instruction manual for our neck of the woods. His influence is everywhere in the poems collected here, which so often take ‘nature’ not as an idyllic refuge but as a site of careful, strenuous, and repeated steps or actions. The Vermonters in this book come from and live all over. Roads Taken is a ‘constellation/of patches and pitches,’ proof to me that Vermont will always require the imagination of its citizens to exist.”  —Dan Chiasson


Readers who follow Vermont poetry will dive into this volume as if it were a reunion with old friends — wildly diverse friends whom it’s strange yet stimulating to encounter in close proximity. In the first 32 pages alone, we meet the tantalizingly elliptical verse of Paige Ackerson-Kiely (who now lives in New York State), the finely stitched reminiscences of Julia Alvarez, Partridge Boswell‘s gritty and exquisite evocation of the farming life, and verses by the late David Budbill, as simple and perfect as river-shaped stones. There are many more “roads” to take, leading to Robert Frost and Ruth Stone and Grace Paley and Major Jackson and newer voices such as Julia Shipley and Alison Prine. Exploring these highways and byways is more than worthwhile. — Margot Harrison, Seven Days

“. . . Roads Taken includes themes one might expect from Vermont—its land, people and animals—but goes well beyond. . . . Lea and deNiord have shown what a reservoir of poetic talent thrives in this small corner of the nation. . . . In its breadth and beauty this collection captures a century of poetic art in Vermont.” —George Longenecker, Rain Taxi

About the Editors
Sydney Lea was Vermont’s 2011-2015 Poet Laureate. He has published numerous books in multiple genres, among them Pursuit of a Wound, a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He is the founder of New England Review and has been awarded Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim fellowships; he has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont, and Middlebury colleges, as well as at Switzerland’s Franklin College and Budapest’s National Hungarian University. His stories, poems, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and many other periodicals, as well as in more than fifty anthologies. He is the author of 23 books, the latest Seen from All Sides: Lyric and Everyday Life, essays (Green Writers Press, 2021); fourteen of these volumes are poetry collections, the most recent of which are Here (Four Way Books, NYC, 2019) and The Exquisite Triumph of Womboy, a mock-epic collaboration with former Vermont Cartoonist Laureate James Kochalka (Able Muse, 2020). In 2021, he was presented with his home state of Vermont’s most prestigious artist’s distinction: the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He lives in Newbury, Vermont, and he is active both in community literacy efforts and in environmental conservation.

Chard deNiord is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press 2020) and Interstate (U. of Pittsburgh, 2015). He is also the author of two books of interviews with eminent American poets: Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century Poetry (Marick Press, 2011) and I Would Lie To You If I Could  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). He is Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing at Providence College and the essay editor at Plume Poetry. From 2015 to 2019 he served as the Poet Laureate of Vermont. He lives in Westminster West, Vermont with his wife, Liz.

Dan Chiasson, who wrote the Introduction, is the author of four books, most recently a book of poems, Where’s the Moon, There’s the Moon (Knopf 2010). He is the poetry critic for The New Yorker, and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Chiasson was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont, attended Amherst College and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is a professor of English at Wellesley College.


Book cover artist, Petria Mitchell, studied at the National Academy of Design, New York and Vesper George School of Art in Boston. Her exploration of the ethereal world of light and atmosphere through the use of tonal gradation and converging lines dissolving into accumulating layers of mist are signature elements in her works. Petria’s works can be found exclusively at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts, 183 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont, founded in 2014, by Petria and partner Jim Giddings.

Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry, Third Edition
Edited by Chard deNiord and Sydney Lea with an introduction by Dan Chiasson
Paperback Original
478 pages
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Price: $24.95
ISBN: 978-1-7322662-3-0
Pub Date: October 18, 2022

Distributor: Midpoint Trade / IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Useful for poetry classes with discussion guide available upon request.
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