Vermont Exit Ramps II

“You will never again pass an exit ramp in Vermont or elsewhere as once you did.” —Sydney Lea, Vermont State Poet Laureate, 2011-2016

By turns comic and elegiac, full of signs and portents, Vermont Exit Ramps II takes readers on a physical and emotional journey through the Green Mountain State. Combining a reporter’s instincts with a poet’s eyes and ears, Shepard invites the reader, exit ramp by exit ramp, to wander through the surrounding ramplands, towns, and hilltop farms and to discover historical realities and imagined alternatives. Through his lyrical reportage, Shepard incorporates “found” material—road signage and weather reports, birdcalls and mammal-chatter, Chinese fortune cookies and scrambled anagrams, snippets of literary texts and local pamphlets—into poems that are as layered as the natural and human history that make up contemporary Vermont. This virtuosic performance will serve as a spirited primer for first-time visitors while making long-time Vermonters see the land they thought they knew with fresh eyes. 


“Neil Shepard’s poetry commits itself to beauty, without ever abandoning a commitment to the regular people living and dying along the exit ramps, everywhere, across this nation. Shepard culls the rhythms of his lines from the quotidian; he carries too much philosophy and too much apocalypse in his bones, so that we might carry some of the world’s heaviness like dandelion puff and cottonwood spindrift.” —Dante Di StefanoArcadia Literary Magazine

Neil Shepard’s Vermont Exit Ramps is as refreshing a sequence of poems as I’ve read in many a year. Not only has he discovered rich and previously unexamined material in the much-written-about Vermont landscape; he’s also used unlikely poetic methods that make this a one-of-a-kind book and a virtuoso performance. He’s even refurbished Pound’s old advice to Make it new.” —David Huddle, poet

“In Neil Shepard’s VERMONT EXIT RAMPS II, we journey to the kingdom of the unclaimed, the unnoticed, the (until now) unsung, the I-89 and I-91 exit ramps of Vermont where wilderness and settlement interpenetrate in until now unremarked, yet remarkable ways.  The nonce form Shepard has invented for the trip assures the program never becomes programmatic.  Lyricism is intercut with the playful chance inventions of what an anagram scrambler can make of each exit name, and what the poet can make of the result.  The wind and the yellow warblers mash with the boosterism of ski resort brochures and intriguing scraps of folk history intersperse with the poet’s own long history in Vermont, the human in turn tangling back into the a history of a fern unfurling in the spring sunshine.  Layered as the rippled rock of Vermont’s Green Mountains, these poems display the poet’s nimble mind and nimble tongue and delight the reader with exactly what the road tripper travels for:  that fresh experience waiting around every bend.” — Christine M. Gelineau 

About the Author

neil-shepardNeil Shepard is the author of seven books of poetry including Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry Press of Ireland, 2015), (T)ravel/Un(t)ravel (Mid-List Press, 2011), This Far from the Source (Mid-List, 2006), I’m Here Because I Lost My Way (Mid-List, 1998), and Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat (First Book Award, Mid-List Press, 1993) and chapbook, Vermont Exit Ramps (Big Table Publishing, 2012), His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, have been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize, and they have been featured online at Poetry Daily, Verse DailyandPoem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Arts Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute and The Frost Place. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center, and he taught for several decades in the BFA Creative Writing Program at Johnson State College in Vermont until his retirement in 2009He also founded the literary magazine Green Mountains Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter-century. He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at The Poets House and in the low-residency MFA writing program at Wilkes University (PA). Outside of the literary realm, Neil is a founding member of the jazz-poetry group POJAZZ.

About the Photographer
Anthony Reczek lives in New England where he pursues landscape, editorial and fine art photography.  He is a contributing photographer and writer for VERMONT magazine, and a contributing photographer for VERMONT LIFE, along with a number of other print and online publications. In 2010, he created an online gallery for his images of New England,, and posts there twice weekly.

PUB DATE: November 2, 2015
7.5 x 9.25; trade paperback; 142 pages; $24.95 | color photos throughout
ISBN: 978-0-9962676-4-9(pbk)
Poet available for readings throughout New England.
Distributed by Midpoint Trade Books, Ingram’s, Baker & Taylor.
Available wherever books are sold.