Vermont is home to a rich literary tradition, as evidenced by the many authors and poets who live here. The list of writers includes such names as Janet Biehl, Louella Bryant, David Wolf Budbill, and Paul Foxman. Read on to learn more about these and other writers from Vermont.
For more than half a century, Adrienne Rich has been an activist, feminist, poet, and writer. Her poetry and nonfiction books reveal an in-depth perspective on feminism and women’s issues. She was also an active member of the civil rights, Vietnam War, and prison injustice movements. In 2010, Rich received the Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.
A young poet in her mid-twenties, Rich struggled with the implications of having children. Eventually, she left her home state of Baltimore, Maryland. She lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, economist Alfred Haskell Conrad.
For this month’s New England Review reading series, the editors opted for a tad less conventional, but no less impressive, concoction: Please Do Not Remove, a compendium of Vermont literature, spanning the gamut from the baffling to the beguiling. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to the Vermont Library Association. The book is a requisite introduction to the state’s storied literary landscape, and should be on every bookish and literature-lover’s to-do list.
In the context of this book, it seems apt to compare it to other books and literary heavyweights, and it’s no wonder: David Dillon is a Vermonter who has had a lifelong obsession with literature, literature reviews, and the literary art of blending the two. As an independent journalist, he has been in the trenches and on the airwaves at all points of the literary spectrum. Among his many accomplishments, Dillon has published five novels, a slew of poetry collections, and scores of non-fiction works.
David Wolf Budbill
During the first half of the twentieth century, Robert Frost was a literary comet in New England, delighting students and presidents alike with his lyrical poetry. While the poet was wildly diverse, his poems were centered on the country folk of New Hampshire and Vermont. His work still resonates today.
Budbill was a poet, playwright and author of eight books of poetry, two novels, a children’s picture book and dozens of essays. He died on Sept. 25 of progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare form of Parkinson’s disease.
Budbill’s ‘Two for Christmas’ is a comical and gritty story about dirty shepherds living in rags. It draws from the same craziness of the medieval English miracle play, The Second Shepherds’ Play, but in a modern context.
Louella Bryant, author of the award-winning collection of stories, “Beside the Long River,” is one of Vermont’s most prolific writers. Her stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies, and have won numerous prizes. She has also written four historical novels for young adults.
“Beside the Long River” is a story of Sarah Lyman, a woman from England who came to America with her family in the early 1600s. After meeting a preacher in Connecticut, she leaves her home with her family and sails down the river to New England.
In her novel, Bryant writes from Sarah’s point of view. When she arrives in New England, she encounters Pequot Indians and tries to convince her Puritan neighbors that war is not necessary.
Janet Biehl is an artist and writer. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and went to Wesleyan University and CUNY Graduate Center. She studied set design, costume design, and watercolor painting. Later she attended the Art Students League of New York.
As a writer, she has written articles and essays on social ecology. She is also a copyeditor, graphic artist, and translator. Her most recent work is a biography of her friend Murray Bookchin.
Bookchin was a revolutionary change force in the United States, who worked on behalf of the antistatist political movement. He died in Burlington, Vermont, on December 5, 2006. After many years of working with him, Biehl penned a biography of Bookchin.
The state of Vermont has a rich literary tradition. Many writers have chosen to live in the state, while others have come there by chance.
Some authors have found the state attractive because of its natural beauty, its proximity to publishing centers, or its affordability. Others have chosen to make the state their home because of elusive concepts. These writers are often referred to as “renaissance” writers.
There are a few well-known Vermont authors. For example, Robert Frost delighted his readers in the late 19th century. He was a poet who channeled the hardscrabble life of New Hampshire and Vermont in lyrical poetry. His poetry is still revered.
The writer Annie Proulx is best known for her evocative writing about rural America. She has published five book-length works of fiction. These novels, short stories, and nonfiction pieces explore issues such as deforestation, social change, and relationships.
In addition to her fiction, Proulx has also published a memoir, Birdcloud: A Memoir of Place. This novel reflects on Proulx’s lifelong connection with rural America. It was awarded multiple awards, including the Dos Passos Prize for Literature, the National Book Award for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the National Magazine Award for Fiction.