April 12, 2016

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NPM 50 State Tour: Vermont

What is the 14th state? Vermont, Naturally. Or, you may prefer the slogan, "What happens here, stays here (but nothing really happens here)."

Vermont is known for its skiing, but it's just gorgeous in the warmer months. And yes, there is a Ben and Jerry's Factory that you can tour. The tour guide who turned us away (we missed the last tour) said there's nothing more delicious than ice cream fresh from the production line. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Vermont was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1791. It has the lowest violent crime rate of all 50 states and boasts the only state capital without a McDonalds. But before we all decide to move there, let's check out the Green Mountain State's poetic heritage.

Robert Frost was Vermont's first poet laureate when the position was created in 1961. But the state had no poet laureate from Frost's death in 1963 to 1988. Galway Kinnell was the next PL, followed by Louise Gluck, Ellen Bryant Voigt and Grace Paley.

Multi award-winning Ruth Stone is Vermont's current poet laureate. At 95, Stone writes bravely and eloquently about the region of latter age. I found "The Question" at the Poetry Foundation, where you can read several of Stone's poems.

The Question

by Ruth Stone

While needles of the evergreen
practice a windy chaos,
heads of snarled hair;
something in the tree
longs for old age;
bald brown knobs of skull
without subterfuge;
but it continues with its greedy
resinous sexual odors. 

Join me in Kentucky next. I'm a big fan of Wendell Berry's poetry, so we'll be sure to pay him a virtual visit on our National Poetry Month 50 State Tour.

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