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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Vt. Poet's Debut Collection Wins Awards, Praise

Sarah Rutledge
Vt. Poet's Debut Collection Wins Awards, Praise

Woodstock Poet Partridge Boswell’s first collection of poems, Some Far Country, features poems on a variety of themes, from grief to ugly Americanism to parental anxiety to perceptions and realities of Africa. The poems leave you feeling breathless, embarrassed, sad, vulnerable, and in awe of the world around us.

"To me, they're a love song to the world, which all poems are." -Partridge Boswell

The book has won the Grolier Discovery Award. VPR's Peter Biello speaks to Boswell about his collection and the art of poetry. In this extended version of the conversation, they speak about today's poetry landscape, what MFA in creative writing programs at universities provide for poets, and what makes art art.

Boswell says the series was inspired by the death of his wife two years ago, but that there are more themes at play.

“A friend of mine, he read this entire collection as a series of elegies,” Boswell says. “I don’t see it quite that way. To me they’re a love song to the world, which all poems are.”

Boswell discusses his poem Found, in which a piece of found trash is displayed as art. Boswell says his art, in contrast to the work described in his poem, is deliberate.

“It’s not to say you have to suffer too much, but if art comes easy to you, you have to question it a little bit”

Boswell shared a poem from the collection:


There was not even any sound, because of the sand – Antoine de Saint-Exupèry

The night before the day you stared god in the eye

and god blinked you became the clock we watched

your hours condensed to a holiness of breath deep

in cavernous sleep…or so we assume until you hear

his playing from another room and cock your head

and your own mother goes to ask him to come in and

play for your mother I think she likes it and he comes

and sits beside your bed and strums and sings

a Natalie Merchant song he learned your oldest son

who graduates from high school next year while your

youngest little prince dreams in another room he

has all the stars laughing only for him the rhythm

of blood a perpetual tune in his chest as your own

rises and falls a leaky raft at sea and you drift far from

everything you’ll miss in their lives far from anything

resembling pity or regret eyes closed resigned to never

sighting land again you listen with the faintest smile

on your lips to this strange and wondrous music which

seems to be flowing from somewhere deep inside

of you as the shy boy you always liked but never

spoke to approaches and asks you for this dance


Peter was a Producer/Announcer at VPR until 2015. He began his public radio career in 2007 at WHQR-FM in Wilmington, North Carolina where he served as Morning Edition host and reporter, covering county government and Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. His work has won several Associated Press awards and has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and PRI's This American Life. A graduate of the creative writing program at the University of Maine at Farmington, Peter enjoys writing, cooking and traveling.
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