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Vermont poet laureate Bianca Stone on finding poetry in everyday life

Bianca Stone has been named Vermont's new poet laureate.
Vermont Arts Council
Bianca Stone of Brandon follows in the footsteps of her grandmother, former Vermont poet laureate Ruth Stone.

Vermont has a long history of honoring poets. Robert Frost was named Vermont’s first poet laureate by the State Assembly in 1961. Gov. Madeleine Kunin reinstated the four-year appointment in 1988, and nine poets have been named to the role since, including Grace Paley, Galway Kinnell and most recently, Mary Ruefle.

Last week, Gov. Phil Scott appointed poet and visual artist Bianca Stone of Brandon as the state’s new poet laureate.

On Vermont Edition, Stone said she's excited to host and participate in poetry events around the state during her tenure, and have conversations with writers of other genres.

"It's an opportunity to do what you can for the state to promote poetry, and to to be more present as a poet among the community," she said. "We can really start the discussion about, well, what does poetry do? How is poetry relevant to to people in this world? And where does it overlap in other genres?"

Stone is the second in her family to be named poet laureate— her grandmother Ruth Stone held the title from 2007 until her death in late 2011.

Stone said that her grandmother was deeply honored by the role. Ruth Stone was originally from Virginia, but she made Vermont her home.

"To get that achievement in the final years of her life, I think it was a perfect ending," Stone said. She keeps her grandmother's love of poetry alive as the creative director of the Ruth Stone House in Goshen, which aims to be a gathering space for poetry and the creative arts.

Stone read her poem, "The Ways Things Were Up Until Now," and mentioned being inspired by Dante's The Divine Comedy. She said that all poetry is in conversation with past poetry because all poets want to react to the poetry they read.

"When you you're picking up the conversation, you're picking up ideas. This is what philosophers do as well. This is the work that that we are all part of as time goes on, " Stone said. "And it's great because you realize that nothing is finite, and the poem itself holds space to keep going, keep continuing on, like its own form of consciousness."

Broadcast live on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.