Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Muse: New Vermont Poet Laureate

Poems you love stay in your unconscious. . . .*
Chard deNiord

Chard deNiord is Vermont's eighth Poet Laureate. (I learned of the appointment from deNiord's FaceBook page.) He succeeds Sydney Lea, whose four-year term began November 4, 2011. (Lea's last work published as Poet Laureate is the forthcoming essay collection, What's the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long, from Green Writers Press. Read Lea's column "On Poetry: Thanks from a grateful Vermont Poet Laureate" at Vermont Today.)

Information about the state poet's position and related resources are found in my 2010 post about the late Ruth Stone. Stone held the office from July 2007 to July 2011.

De Niord will begin his laureateship officially on November 2, 2015, where an installation ceremony is planned at the State House in Montpelier.

* * * * *
I feel writing must take over
in order for me to succeed at discovering
something I didn't know I knew. . . .*

Poet, essayist, interviewer, and book critic Chard deNiord is the author of Interstate (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming Fall 2015), The Double Truth (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), named a Top 10 poetry book by The Boston GlobeNight Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Asleep in the Fire (Alabama Poetry Series, University of Alabama Press, 1990).

Other publications by deNiord include Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century American Poets (Marick Press, 2011), a collection of interviews with seven "senior" American poets (Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, Jack Gilbert, Donald Hall, Gallway Kinnell, Maxine Kumin, and Ruth Stone) and essays on correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. [Note: The interview with Jack Gilbert was published at Poetry Daily.]

Some themes and subjects found throughout deNiord's poetry are loss, the witnessing of injustices, compassion, nature and animal life, self-exploration, love, sex, myth, truth and its fractures, redemption, religion and the bible, the spiritual and the transcendent—what deNiord calls "writing toward the unsayable". There is darkness in his work but also humor.

Below are excerpts from several of deNiord's poems that give a sense of his elegant style, firm command of technique, sensualness, and richly evocative imagery. Many of deNiord's poems are brief and yet pack a punch, especially in their concluding lines.

I still taste you from the time
you painted my tongue
with your scarlet finger.
It cured my heart of innocence, [. . .]
~ from "The Double Truth" in The Double Truth

[. . .] I picked up the bodies
like bloody socks and prayed to the god
in charge of this field for my own weakness
to feel this much for slaughtered chicks.
For an understanding of his need to kill
the most vulnerable thing, whether hungry or not.
~ from "In the Grass" in Interstate

[. . .] I stared at the fire that had formed a heart
and tongue together and raged in rain.
I watched it rise like a beautiful dress. [. . .]
~ from "Burning the Brush" in Sharp Golden Thorn

DeNiord's free verse and formal poems, which may be lyrical or narrative, have appeared in numerous, prestigious literary periodicals, including Agni, American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary ReviewBlackbird, The Cortland Review, Green Mountains ReviewHarvard ReviewHudson Review, Hunger MountainKenyon Review, Natural BridgeNew England ReviewThe New RepublicPloughsharesPlume, SalamanderSalmagundi, Slate, Smartish PaceThe Southern Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Verse Daily. Some of his prose poems ("The Prodigal Driver", The Bear Speaks to the Boy", and "Say I Sound Like One of the Hosts") can be found in StoryScape Literary Journal. (See a more complete list in the Journals section of deNiord's Website.)

Some anthologies in which deNiord has contributed are American Religious Poems (The Library of America, 2006), Best American Poetry (Robert Bly, Ed; Scribner, 1999), Best of the Prose Poem (White Pine Press, 2000), Pushcart Book of Poetry, The Best Poems from Thirty Years of the Pushcart Prize (Pushcart Press, 2007), American Poetry Now: Pitt Poetry Series Anthology (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), and Ploughshares Winter 1998-99: Stories and Poems (Ploughshares Books, 1998).

In addition to the Joseph R. Accinno Faculty Teaching Award from Providence College (2011-2012), deNiord has received the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America (for his poem "Crow"), a Pushcart Prize (for "What the Animals Teach Us") from Pushcart Press, and a Best American Poetry award (for "Pasternak"). (See the Awards & Citations section of deNiord's Website for other honors.) [Note: DeNiord's "What the Animals Teach Us" is part of a book of 26 etchings of animals by printmaker Brian D. Cohen. Information about this limited-edition fine art book is available at Bridge Press. In addition, 11 of deNiord's poems are included in Brighton Press's limited-edition, The Book of Darkness, complementing 11 etchings and paintings by Michele Burgess.]

A founder of the master's program in poetry at New England College, deNiord is a professor of English and creative writing at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island.

Besides his master's degree in fine arts (creative writing) from the University of Iowa, the poet holds a master's degree in biblical studies from Yale University.


Photo Credit: Liz deNiord

All Poetry Excerpts © Chard deNiord

* Quoted from deNiord's Interview with Katie Fagan (See link below.)

Chard deNiord Poems Online: "What the Animals Teach Us", "The Thin Path", "Pasternak", "Curtains", "To Hear and Hear", "My Other Body", and "The Police", All at Chard deNiord's Website; "The Percherons", "Sunday Calls", "This Ecstasy", and "Trailer", All at Poetry Foundation; "The Double Truth" at Academy of American Poets; "An Incident at the Catholic Worker" at How a Poem Happens; "Poem on My 60th Birthday" and "A Soul Addresses Her Beloved in the Non-Green Zone", Both at Blackbird; "The Fire in the Distance", "Through a Glass", "The Bride as Scout", "All the Unlikeness", and "The Return of Jan Weiner", All at The Cortland Review (Audio Available); "Anchorite in Autumn" and "Under the Sun", Both at Verse Daily; "The Muse Writes Luis Jorge Borges A Letter on His 86th Birthday" at Plume; "Crows" and "Mr. Handsome", Both at Connotation Press; "Frog" at Academy of American Poets; "In the Beginning" at Tupelo Quarterly; "Augustine's Pears" at Slate (Audio Available); "Dumuzi Bids Innana Goodby" at The Antioch Review Blog (Audio Available); "Goshawk" at Marsh Hawk Press; "Anchorite in Autumn", "The Sweet Invisible Smoke", "Dress Poker", All at University of Pittsburgh Press Page for Interstate (pdf); "Raiding the Bees", "To Hear and Hear", "Frog", and "Sugaring", All at University of Pittsburgh Press Page for The Double Truth (pdf); "Cloud Copy", "Halfway Down", "At the Bardo Barber", and "Oh, Besotted, Critical Father", All at Body; "Poetry" at Vox Populi; "Connecticut", "I Heard a Willow Fall", "Tree of Wisdom", and "Behold, The Lord God Bird", All at OnEarth Magazine; "Jefferson's Baths", "Drive-In", and "Memoir", All at Zocalo Public Square; "Happy Hour", "Anima", and "Anchorite in Autumn", All at March Poetry Monday, International Psychoanalysis Blog; "Graven beloved", "I cannot grieve", and "What the river said", All at Cardinal Points

Ryan Pait, "Poet deNiord Shares Advice from Masters in Brown Bag", The Chautauquan Daily, June 30, 2015

Meslisa Studdard, "Chard deNiord", The Tiferet Talk Interviews, Tiferet Journal, Blog Talk Radio, July 10, 2014 (Transcript Available)

Harvard Review, "Mid-Century Modern: Conversations with 20th-Century American Poets", Interview, Harvard Review Online, June 3, 2013 [Note: This interview with deNiord also appears at the poet's Website.]

Katie Fagan, "Interview with Chard deNiord", Poetry International, April 22, 2012 [Note: This interview also can be found on deNiord's Website.]

"English Professor Receives Teaching Award", Providence College News, April 4, 2012


Poetry Society of Vermont

Sun Dog Poetry Center

University of Alabama Press

University of Pittsburgh Press

University of Pittsburgh Press Page for Interstate

University of Pittsburgh Press Page for The Double Truth

University of Pittsburgh Press Page for Night Nowing

Vermont Arts Council (FaceBook)

Nominations Process Explained at VAC

Vermont Arts Council Blog

Vermont Humanities

Vermont Literary Review (Castleton University)

Vermont Poetry

Vermont Resources for Writers

White Pine Press

Video: "Chard deNiord Reads His Poem 'At the Sap Wells'" (2014)

TEDTalk, "An Homage, A Prayer, A Poem" (22:38 Minutes), TEDxShepaugValleySchool, July 6, 2015:

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