Vermont Poets and Their Craft

The anthology Vermont Poets and Their Craft is a deep well of wisdom and art that offers thought-provoking essays on poetic craft and a unique selection of poetry. Compiled as a follow-up to Sundog Poetry Center’s lecture series of the same name, filmed and televised by Vermont Public Television, this collection will not only be an invaluable resource for creative writing classes, but for writers at all stages of development who might enjoy literary company diving deep into various aspects of poetic craft. Included are essays from most of the poets from the original series — Major Jackson, Sydney Lea, David Budbill, Baron Wormser, Neil Shepard, Diana Whitney, David Huddle, Pamela Harrison, Mary Jane Dickerson, and Tamra Higgins – as well as seven additional poets vital to Vermont’s literary canon: Partridge Boswell Martha Zweig, Stephen Cramer, Greg Delanty, Chard deNiord, Didi Jackson, and Geof Hewitt.

These essays on poetic craft offer something for everyone, whether you are an accomplished poet, or a student seeking deeper understanding of poetic craft, or are simply curious about poetry’s allure. Topics include poetic plain-style; the interweaving of lyric and narrative elements in a poem; the formal elements of both metered and free verse; the art of concealing and revealing in a poem; the deployment of dramatic and thematic cues through poetic structure; the natural-world representations of desire in poetry; the grounding of a poem through imagery; the convergence of history and poetry; the complexity of poetry residing in its combination of irony and ecstasy; the music inside lyric poetry and the poetry inside music lyrics; the linguistic play, serendipity, and subversion of experimental poetry; and – what else? – the mystery and terror at the heart of Robert Frost’s nature poetry.

This 250-page anthology by Vermont poets on poetic craft is full of the best writing and best advice on writing you’re likely to find anywhere in the English-speaking world (and certainly within Vermont). If there’s a particular angle that Vermont poets take when writing about poetic craft, it’s probably rooted in their selection of poems by contemporary Vermont poets to illustrate their ideas about craft. So yes, this anthology is partly a local affair, discussing Vermont poems and poetic concepts that resonate for writers here in the Green Mountains, even as it reflects ideas about poetic craft that come down to us from several thousand years ago and several thousand miles away.


About the Editors

Neil Shepard is the author of seven books of poetry including Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry, 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 the 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 have been featured online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-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 2009. He 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.

Tamra J. Higgins holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Writing Program, University of Southern Maine and a M.Ed. from Johnson State College. After teaching in the Vermont public schools for 19 years, she founded Sundog Poetry Center, Inc., a nonprofit 501c3 organization that promotes poets and poetry throughout Vermont. Higgins served as President of the Poetry Society of Vermont for three years, from 2012 through 2015. Her work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Passagers, Modern Haiku, Avocet, The Aurorean, The Mountain Troubadour, Vermont Magazine, and other publications. She is the author of Nothing Saved Us: Poems of the Korean War (2014), the chapbook Tenderbellied (2015) and co-editor of Tasteful Traditions: A Collection of Cambridge History, Memories, and Family Recipes. She lives in Jeffersonville, Vermont where, besides writing, reading and promoting poetry, she runs her fiber arts and yarn shop and tends her sheep.


Vermont Poets and Their Craft
Edited by Neil Shepard and Tamra J. Higgins
Paperback Original
274 pages  |  6 x 9
Price: $24.95
ISBN: 978-1-7327434-4-1
Pub Date: April 23, 2019

Distributor: Midpoint Trade / IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Individuals can order via, online, or contact your local, independent bookstore.
Booksellers, libraries, colleges/universities, gift shops, etc., can order through IPG:
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741

Publicity contact Tamra J. Higgins, founder of Sundog Poetry Center, Inc.
Dede Cummings, publisher: