2013 Bios

Poets & Presenters

We are so happy to host these fabulous writers, teachers, publishers, and poetry advocates in Montpelier. Each bio is accompanied with their event date, so make sure to check the schedule for a description of the event.

Click here to download a PDF with all bios.

Pamela Ahlen is program director for Bookstock, a Festival of Words, one of three Vermont literary festivals.  She has organized literary events for ILEAD (Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth).  She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program. Her poems most recently have appeared in BirchSong anthology, BloodrootCahoodalodaling, and Sow’s Ear. Her chapbook Gather Every Little Thing will be released in June, 2013, by Finishing Line Press. Pamela lives in Barnard, Vermont. Pamela is reading on April 5th.

Benjamin Aleshire’s writing has appeared most recently in the Burlington Free Press, Crab Orchard Review, Seven Days, and Green Mountains Review. Recently he has been awarded a grant in publishing from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment of the Arts, and an artist residency at the BCA Center in Burlington. Ben was also selected for the 2013 Young Artist Series at St. Lawrence University, and as a finalist for the Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. This winter he performed in New Orleans as a puppeteer with the Mudlark Theater and the Marigny Opera House, as well as writing for Entrepôt and toiling in an archiving project which will eventually rewrite the history of jazz poetry. His first book is Dropped Apples. Ben will be part of a panel and reading on April 27th.

Cara Armstrong is the author and illustrator of Moxie: The Dachshund of Fallingwater and the tri-lingual Counting with Cats who Dream/Compte avec les Chats qui Revent/Contando con Gatos que Suenan.  A visiting professor in the School of Architecture + Art at Norwich University, she completed her MFA in Poetry from Drew University in January.  Her poems most recently appeared in OVS Magazine and Adanna Literary Journal. Cara lives in Northfield, VT. Cara will be reading on April 5th. Her paintings and poems are up all month at Bagitos.

Ann Aspell has over thirty years of experience as a book designer and editor. In 1999, she co-founded Chapiteau Press, a publisher of hand-bound poetry chapbooks. Ann also teaches at Community College of Vermont. Ann will be part of a panel on April 27th.

Andrew Miller Brown is printer/publisher of Plowboy Press in Burke, Vermont. After graduating from Johnson State College, Andrew went on to work and learn with Claire Van Vliet at the Janus Press. Combining his lifelong interests of books, writing, and art with his upbringing on a small, family-operated dairy farm, Miller Brown’s Plowboy Press publishes handmade books in limited editions focusing on rural life, farming, and Vermont. Because the processes and materials involved in the production of handmade books limit availability, Plowboy Press titles are often offered as chapbooks. Andrew will be part of a panel on April 27th.

Wendy Call is co-editor of the anthology Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide and author of No Word for Welcome, winner of Grub Street’s National Book Prize for Nonfiction. She translates poetry by indigenous Mexican writers, served as 2011 Artist in Residence at Vermont’s only national park, in Woodstock, and makes her home in Seattle.   She has just joined the faculty of the BFA Program in Creative Writing at Goddard. Wendy will be reading her translations on April 23rd.

Carol Johnson Collins was born in Brattleboro in 1947 and was raised on three sheep and chicken farms in southern Vermont. She has been creating poetry since she was 5 years old. Carol taught high-school creative writing, poetry, and drama in Vermont for six years. She and her husband, Fred, designed and built their own home in South Duxbury in 1972 and have lived there for almost 40 years. Carol was on the editorial board of the Mountain Troubadour, a poetry magazine, for 14 years, and has done poetry readings in Vermont schools, libraries, historical sites, churches, and restaurants. She has led writing workshops for community groups and high school students, and has published numerous poems in small poetry magazines and in the poetry anthology Pebbles from the Stream. Carol will be reading on April 3rd.

Steven Cramer is the author of five collections of poetry, including Clangings (2012) and Goodbye to the Orchard (2004), winner of the Sheila Motton Prize from the New England Poetry Club, and named an honor book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Recipient of fellowships from the Artists Foundation of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts, Cramer’s work has appeared in the Atlantic, Kenyon Review, the Nation, the New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry, and numerous other periodicals. He directs the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Lesley University. New Pages wrote that Clangings contains “. . . combinations that make our hearts beat faster, our synapses glow,” and Memorious called it “. . .one of our favorite poetry books of 2012.” Steven will be reading on April 17th.

Ralph Culver, of Burlington, is past grantee for the Vermont Arts Council of Burlington, and has been awarded the 2012 Anabiosis Press Poetry Chapbook Prize for his collection, Bothe Distances. He is also the winner of the Chickadee Chaps and Broads first Vermont Poetry Broadside Award, selected by Vermont poet laureate Sydney Lea. Ralph will be reading on April 27th.

Mary Rose Dougherty is a poet, teacher, and caregiver. After teaching creative writing and English literature at the college level for more than 20 years, she went on to work as a professional caregiver with elders and the chronically ill, including individuals struggling with mental illness, autism, and dementia. She has been awarded two fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and served as critic for the Poetry Society of Vermont. Her writing has been published in Yankee, Calliope, and Shoreline: Poetry and Prose, Explorations of Mental Illness. Her poem “Coming to Grace” won an honorable mention in a contest for the Writer’s Circle. She has an MFA in writing with a specialization in poetry from Vermont College, and is currently in the process of becoming credentialed through the National Federation for Biblio/Poetry therapy. Mary Rose’s workshop requires preregistration and will take place on April 20th.

Kate Fetherston’s poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including North American Review, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod, and Third Coast. She co-edited Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience (University of Iowa), and Open Book: Essays from the Postgraduate Writers’ Conference (Cambridge Scholars Press). Kate holds an MFA from Vermont College and was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize in 2008 and 2010. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in Montpelier, Vermont. Kate will be reading on April 29th.

Carrie Fitz is a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, children’s yoga instructor, and book lover. Before the birth of her three children she was the “kid’s person” at Bear Pond Books, where she now offers Story Time on Saturday mornings. She lives in Worcester with her family. Carrie’s storytime will be on April 13th.

Deb Fleischman is a writer, editor, visual artist and aspiring stand-up comic. Her publishing and journalistic experience ranges from local newspapers to national magazines and small book presses, including Health magazine, Creative Arts Books, and Narrative literary magazine. She makes her living as an editor and professional organizer and presently is working on a startup online magazine. She holds an MFA in creative non-fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Deb’s workshop and reading will be on April 6th.

Merry Gangemi is the producer and host of Women-Stirred Radio, WGDR/WGDH, and co-editor of the magazine Sinister Wisdom. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program, Merry lives in East Calais, VT. Merry will be reading on April 5th.

Peter Gilbert has been executive director of the Vermont Humanities Council since 2002. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Virginia, he was previously senior assistant to the president and associate provost at Dartmouth College, a litigator at the Boston law firm of Hale and Dorr, and a faculty member at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He is a frequent commentator on Vermont Public Radio. Peter’s roundtable discussion will take place on April 10th.

Pamela Harrison is the author of six poetry collections. Her poems have been published in literary journals and magazines including Poetry, Georgia Review, and Green Mountains Review. Pamela will be reading on April 9th.

Andrew Hepburn’s poetry grows out of nature and theatre and the imagery, change and conflict found therein. He holds a BA in theater from Goddard College, an MA from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. His recently published work, The Hepburn Chronicles, ranges from growing up off the Mainline outside Philadelphia to antiwar poems and political satire to an homage to the artist Warren Rohrer, as well as a collection of poems entitled The Loons of Holland Pond. He is also a nature photographer and lives in Danville, Vermont, with his wife, Paula, who is a watercolor artist. Andrew’s workshop and reading will be on Earth Day, April 22nd.

Geof Hewitt lives in Calais. A writer, teacher, and Vermont’s reigning poetry slam champion, he has published three books for teachers and four collections of poetry. His most recent books are Hewitt’s Guide to Slam Poetry and Poetry Slam (Discover Writing Press), and The Perfect Heart: Selected and New Poems (Mayapple Press). Geof will host the slam on April 5th.

Morgan Irons has been involved in theater for over 30 years as an actor, producer, director, and teacher. She studied at the New Actors Workshop in New York, and has appeared in numerous area productions. She is also a poetry performer and active in the national Poetry Out Loud project, visiting high schools throughout Vermont to coach students in poetry memorization and recitation. Morgan is a Montpelier native now living in Calais. Morgan’s workshop will be on April 15th.

George Lisi is a naturalist, meditator, and teacher at Wisdom of the Herbs School in Woodbury, and has lived in central Vermont since 1973. His nature-centered poetry celebrates beauty, depth, and immediacy of connection with all life, keen observation, inner integration, and spiritual awakening. George will be reading on April 13th.

Tony Magistrale, the 2007 winner of the Bordighera Poetry Prize, was born in Buffalo, New York, the grandson of Italian immigrants from Bari, Italy. After obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, Magistrale spent a year at the University of Milan as a Fulbright lecturer. Magistrale is professor of English and associate chair of the department of English at the University of Vermont. He has also taught at the Breadloaf Young Writers Conference and as a visiting professor at the University of Augsburg, Germany. He is the author of What She Says About Love (2008) and The Last Soldiers of Love (2012). His new book of poems, Entanglements, is due out in April from Fomite Press. He has published poetry in The Harvard Review, The Green Mountains Review, Blueline Magazine, Northern New England Review, and The Montucky Review, among other places.  He lives in South Burlington, VT. Tony will be reading on April 11th.

Cleopatra Mathis is the author of six books of poems. Her work has appeared widely in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and journals, including the New Yorker, Poetry, and American Poetry Review. Her new book is Book of Dog. Cleopatra will be reading on April 9th.

Gary Miller is a writer, editor, curriculum developer, and documentary filmmaker. His fiction has been published in national literary magazines, including The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Florida Review, and Washington Square.  Gary is a regular contributor to National Geographic Explorer and State of Mind Music Magazine. He earned an MFA in fiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and teaches in the Franklin County Writing Project. Gary’s workshop and reading is on April 6th.

Sherry Olson’s first book of poetry, Breakfast at the Wayside, was published in 2000. Her poem “The Paper Cutter” won the 2009 Ralph Nading Hill Vermont Literary prize. A new collection of poetry, Four Way Stop, will be published in May 2013. Olson grew up in North Carolina and Kentucky and received a BA from Earlham College. She worked as a teacher and volunteer coordinator at Central Vermont Adult Basic Education for more than 15 years and now leads poetry workshops and reading discussion groups for people of all ages, some under the auspices of the Vermont Humanities Council. Sherry lives with her husband, Dave Boyer, in Plainfield. Sherry and her students will be presenting their work on April 5th.

April Ossmann is the author of Anxious Music (Four Way Books, 2007). She is a publishing and editing consultant, and teaches at the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program at Sierra Nevada College. She was executive director of Alice James Books from 2000 to 2008. April’s critique workshop requires preregistration and will be on April 28th. www.aprilossmann.com

Lydia Russell-McDade is a yoga teacher, storyteller, and lover of words. She has been writing, reading, and listening to poetry her whole life, and has been teaching alignment-based yoga since 2005. She takes these words by Mary Oliver to heart: “Instructions for Living a Life: 1.) Pay attention. 2.) Be astonished. 3.) Tell about it.” Lydia’s workshop is on April 21st.

Jim Schley has been an editor for New England Review and for the book publishers University Press of New England, Chelsea Green, and now Tupelo Press. He is cofounder of the chapbook publisher Chapiteau Press and he is author of the chapbook One Another (Chapiteau, 1999) and a full-length book of poems, As When, In Season (Marick Press, 2008). Visit him online at jimschley.com. Jim’s workshop and panel will be on April 27th.

Neil Shepard is the author of four collections of poetry: Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat, I’m Here Because I Lost My Way, This Far from the Source, and his newest collection, (T)ravel/Un(T)ravel. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Boulevard, Harvard Review, and Paris Review. Shepard is senior editor of Green Mountains Review and a founding member of the poetry-jazz ensemble PoJazz. He teaches in the low-residency MFA Writing program at Wilkes University and lives in Vermont and New York City. Neil will be reading on April 9th and on a panel on April 27th.

Julia Shipley is co-founder of Chickadee Chaps and Broads, a Montpelier-based letterpress project (chickadeechapsandbroads.com). She’s also the author of two chapbooks, Herd (Sheltering Pines Press, 2010), and Planet Jr. (Flyway/ Iowa State, 2012). She is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Yankee Magazine and Seven Days. Julia’s workshop and panel are on April 27th.

Rebecca Singer is a local musician now trying her hand at poetry and songwriting.  She has retired from work as a medical practitioner, allowing time for more music, meditation, photography, walking the dogs, playing with the grandchildren, having tea with friends, and, YES, POETRY! Rebecca will be performing on April 5th.

Nicholas Spengler is a poet from Burlington, Vermont. He currently works for novelist John Irving in the Taconic Hills of southern Vermont, but he is leaving soon to pursue love and books in Barcelona. He has written freelance pieces for the arts section of the Burlington Free Press, as well as a biography of Mohawk Indian poet Maurice Kenny for Scribner’s American Writers series. His poems have appeared in the Salon and Danse Macabre. His chapbook, Your Voice in Half-Light, was recently published by Honeybee Press. Nicholas will be reading on April 27th.

Janet Sylvester’s first book of poetry, That Mulberry Wine, was published by Wesleyan University Press . Her second book, The Mark of Flesh, came out with W.W. Norton .  Her new book of poems, Breakwater, is under consideration at a number of publishers.   Sylvester’s poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Pushcart Prize Anthology XXVIII, The Best American Poetry, Triquarterly, Boulevard, Harvard Review, Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Daily and many others.  She is a recipient of the Grolier Poetry Prize, a Pen Discovery Award and a Pushcart Prize and has been awarded multiple fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  She directs the low-residency BFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College in VT. Janet will be reading on April 23rd.

Amy Trafford is a dreamer, dancer, singer, runner, bicyclist, head-stander, and a poet herself who is Mom to the awesomest  5 year old on the planet (if you ask her). She is the manager of Onion River Kids, a really great outdoor oriented store for kids on Langdon Street in Montpelier. Amy’s program will be on April 7th.

Jon Turner is the director of the Veterans Paper-making Workshops for the Peace Paper Project.  His poems and essays have been included in Left Curve Magazine, Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthologies I and II, Warrior Writers: Re-Making Sense and After Action Review, Why Peace?, and his first collection of poems, Eat the Apple. Jon’s reading will be on April 26th.

Ellen Bryant Voigt, former poet laureate of Vermont, has published seven volumes of poetry. Her newest, Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976–2006 (W.W.Norton, 2007), was winner of the Poets’ Prize and a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her essays on craft have been published as The Flexible Lyric (University of Georgia Press, 1999), and The Art of Syntax (Graywolf, 2009), and a new collection of poems, Headwaters, will appear in October 2013. She has received the O.B. Hardison, Jr. Prize for poetry and teaching from the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, where she was subsequently elected a Chancellor. She resides in Cabot, Vermont. Ellen will kick off our festivities with a reading on April 1st.


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