Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

Vermont's Poet Laureate Chard DeNiord On Poetry, Vermont And Grief

Liz Hawkes deNiord
Vermont's poet laureate Chard DeNiord wants more people to read poetry.

Vermont's poet laureate, Chard deNiord, wants you to know that one mode of language that is too often neglected, and for all the wrong reasons, is poetry.

Chard deNiord was appointed to the post last year. He lives in Westminster West and was the co-founder of the New England College MFA program in poetry, and teaches at Providence College. He's also the author of numerous collections of poetry including Night Mowing, Sharp Golden Thorne and The Double Truth, and a collection of interviews with poets called Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs. His latest volume of poetry is called interstate.

"While on the one hand there are poetry programs all over the country, MFA programs, there's this weird divide in this country between those who read poetry and those who simply don't. I think the last NEA statistic was 6 percent of America's reading public read literary novels and poetry," deNiord said. "And yet it's essential language."

"People hear a simple poem, like William Carlos Williams poem, 'So much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens,' even though most people love that poem, they have no idea what it's about. What exactly depends on a red wheelbarrow? Well, it's the power of that image. Would it help to know that William Carlos Williams, who was a doctor, was looking out the second story window in a tenement in New Jersey attending to a boy who was dying of TB and he reached over and grabbed his prescription pad and wrote that poem down? Williams didn't think it was important for the reader to know that. He just felt that that image was so important."

Vermont has influenced deNiord's poetry but he says he has to be careful about not repeating what other great Vermont poets have written. "My challenge is to write what I can. That sounds simple, but it's also for a poet profoundly true. You can't write what you can't."

"Vermont is a magical place for poets. You never know what's over the next hill or mountain, and it's extraordinary tradition of just tough people carving existence out of the land here and that's really a wonderful metaphor for writing poetry. I've torn up dozens and dozens of poems because after writing them I've realized [Robert] Frost wrote about that much better."

To write poetry, deNiord said you have to be in touch with your "dream mind."

Listen to the full interview to hear two of deNiord's poems, including one inspired by recent mass shootings in the United States.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Latest Stories