Vermont

In 1961, Vermont established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Chard deNiord, who was appointed to a four-year term in 2015. deNiord is the author of six poetry collections, including Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).

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Vermont poet laureaute
Chard deNiord

Chard deNiord was born on December 17, 1952, in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he attended Lynchburg College. The son of a doctor, deNiord anticipated going into the medical profession as well until his college professors introduced him to religious studies, which he chose as his major. DeNiord graduated from Lynchburg College in 1975 and went on to earn his MDiv from Yale Divinity School in 1978. Before pursuing ordination, deNiord got a job working as an inpatient psychiatric aide at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. Five years later, he left to pursue poetry, attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received his MFA in 1985.

Returning to New England, deNiord taught at private schools for over a decade while publishing his poems. In 1990, he published his first poetry collection, Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990), while teaching comparative religions and philosophy at the Putney School in Vermont.

In 1998, deNiord began teaching at Providence College, where he was eventually named the tenth recipient of the Joseph R. Accinno Faculty Teaching Award. That same year, he founded the Spirit and Letter Workshop, a ten-day program of workshops and lectures in Patzquaro, Mexico, featuring faculty poets such as Thomas Lux, Gerald Stern, Jean Valentine, and Ellen Bryant Voigt, among others.

In 2002, deNiord cofounded the New England College MFA program in poetry, which he directed until 2007.

DeNiord’s other poetry collections are Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015); Speaking in Turn, a collaboration with Tony Sanders (Gnomon Press, 2011); The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011); Night Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); and Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). DeNiord also authored a book of essays and interviews with renowned poets called Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Reflections and Conversations with Twentieth Century American Poets (Marick Press, 2012). The poets featured in the collection include Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, and Maxine Kumin, among others.

DeNiord is currently a professor of English at Providence College and the poet laureate of Vermont. He lives in Westminster West, Vermont.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Speaking in Turn, a collaboration with Tony Sanders (Gnomon Press, 2011)
The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)
Night Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)
Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003)
Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990)

Chard deNiord

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Passage I

little moth
I do not think you'll escape
this night

I do not think
you'll escape this night
little moth

               *

bees in clover
summer half over
friends without lovers

               *

I bite a carrot
horsefly bites me

               *

I thought it was you
moving through the trees

but it was the trees

I thought it was your finger
grazing my knee

it was the breeze

I thought prayers were rising
to a god alive in my mind

they rose on the wind

I thought I had all the time
and world enough to discover what I should

when it was over

I thought I would always be young
though I knew the years passed

and knowing turned my hair gray

I thought it was a welcome
what I took for a sign—

the sun...the unsymboling sun...

               *

watch the clouds
on any given day
even they don't keep their shape
for more than a minute

sociable shifters
bringing weather from elsewhere
until it's our weather
and we say now it's raining here

               *

Vermont shore lit
by a fugitive sun
who doesn't believe
in a day's redemption

               *

sunset renovation
at the expected hour
but the actual palette
still a surprise

               *

gulls alit on the lake
little white splendors
looking to shit on the dock

               *

little cat
kneading my chest
milkless breasts
take your pleasure
where you can

               *

not that I was alive
but that we were

All the Whiskey in Heaven

Not for all the whiskey in heaven
Not for all the flies in Vermont
Not for all the tears in the basement
Not for a million trips to Mars

Not if you paid me in diamonds
Not if you paid me in pearls
Not if you gave me your pinky ring
Not if you gave me your curls

Not for all the fire in hell
Not for all the blue in the sky
Not for an empire of my own
Not even for peace of mind

No, never, I'll never stop loving you
Not till my heart beats its last
And even then in my words and my songs
I will love you all over again

Song as Abridged Thesis of George Perkin Marsh’s Man and Nature

(Poem on the Occasion of the Centenary of the National Park Service)

The pendulous branches of the Norway spruce slowly move
as though approving our gentle walk in Woodstock,
and the oak leaves yellowing this early morning
fall in the parking lot of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller. 
We hear beneath our feet their susurrus
as the churning of wonder, found, too, in the eyes of a child
who has just sprinted toward a paddock of Jersey cows.
The fate of the land is the fate of man.

Some have never fallen in love with a river of grass
or rested in the dignity of the Great Blue Heron
standing alone, saint-like, in a marshland nor envied
the painted turtle sunning on a log, nor thanked as I have,
the bobcat for modeling how to navigate dynasties of snow,
for he survives in both forests and imaginations
away from the dark hands of developers and myths of profits.
The fate of the land is the fate of man.

Some are called to praise as holy, hillocks, ponds, and brooks,
to renew the sacred contract of live things everywhere,
the cold pensive roamings of clouds above Mount Tom,
to extol silkworm and barn owls, gorges and vales,
the killdeer, egret, tern, and loon; some must rest
at the sandbanks, in deep wilderness, by a lagoon,
estuaries or floodplain, standing in the way of the human storm:
the fate of the land is the fate of man.