Board of Directors

Sundog Poetry Center’s Board of Directors

Mary Jane DickersonMaryJaneDickerson-photo

Mary Jane Phillips Dickerson, born and raised in North Carolina, has spent most of her adult life in Vermont where she lives in Jericho Center. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she began her teaching career at Campbell University in North Carolina (then Campbell College). After moving to Vermont, Dickerson taught literature and writing in the English Department at the University of Vermont where she remained for more than thirty years, retiring as an Associate Professor of English. Dickerson also participated as writer and faculty member at the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Breadloaf, Vermont. Her scholarly work has taken her to Japan where she has given a series of lectures at two universities in Nagoya and to South Africa where she taught at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa for a semester. Dickerson continues to offer an annual workshop on reading and writing poetry, serves on several community boards in Jericho and University of Vermont boards, and is active in civic work, contributing her time to the Democratic Party and to the town of Jericho as Justice of the Peace on the board of Civil Authority. Dickerson has published several poems and has read her poetry in Vermont and North Carolina. Her book of poems, Tapping the Center of Things, was published by Tamarac Press in 2013, and her latest collection of poems, Water Journeys in Art and Poetry, was published in the fall of 2014.

Neil ShepardNeil Shepard

A year after Sundog published his book, Vermont Exit Ramps II, Neil was so impressed by the range and intensity of Sundog’s commitment to poetry in Vermont, that he joined our Board. He has had a long involvement in the world of poetry: his sixth and seventh books of poetry were published in 2015: Hominid Up, by Salmon Poetry (Ireland), and Vermont Exit Ramps II, by Sundog/Green Writers Press. His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, among them Harvard Review, New England Review, North American Review, Paris Review, and Southern Review, and they have been featured online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and CAMAC Arts Centre in France, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute, The Frost Place, and Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center; he taught for a decade in the low-residency MFA program at Wilkes University (PA) and for several decades in the BFA Creative Writing Program at Johnson State College. He also founded the literary magazine Green Mountains Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter-century. He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at Poets House. Outside of the literary realm, Neil is a founding member of the jazz-poetry group PoJazz. He hopes to continue his involvement with poetry by joining what he calls “the most dynamic poetry organization in the state, Sundog!” To learn more about Neil and his work, feel free to visit Welcome aboard, Neil!

pamela-harrisonPamela Harrison

Pamela is an American poet and educator, and the author of five poetry collections, most recently, What to Make of It (WordTech Communications, 2012). A memoir in verse, Glory Bush and Green Banana, will be published in May 2017. Her poems have been published in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, Georgia Review, Green Mountains Review, Cimarron Review, and Yankee Magazine. Her honors include fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as the PEN Northern New England Discovery Poet Award. Harrison was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and earned a B.A. from Smith College, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught English Literature and Creative Writing for the University System of New Hampshire and Dartmouth College as adjunct faculty.


Judith Yarnall

Judith was born in southeastern Pennsylvania but, influenced by reading Little Women as a ten-year old, escaped to New England at first opportunity. She was a history major at Bates College and eventually earned a Ph.D. in English from McGill University. Her love of poetry took hold when she was wrestling with Yeats during her first year of teaching at the University of Virginia. After moving to northern Vermont she began writing poetry when her daughters were small and also taught at several area colleges before joining the Writing and Literature department at Johnson State College. She’s published poems in journals including Feminist Studies, Green Mountains Review, Sojourners and Anima, and essays in the Southwest Review, Friends Journal and Shenandoah, where she won the Carter Prize. Her travel writing , mainly about Holland and Turkey, has appeared in the New York Times. During a year teaching American literature at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, she co-translated a selection of poems by Karacaoglan, a troubadour well known to Turks, which was later published by Indiana University. Her book Transformations of Circe (University of Illinois Press) grew out of her fascination with myth and love of Homer. Besides poetry and literature, the other ongoing theme of her adult life has been peace and anti-nuclear activism. She recently served three years on the board of the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington and is now excited and delighted to join the board of Sundog and put poetry once more at the center of her life.

Rebecca Starks, Secretary

Rebecca, living in Richmond, is the author of the poetry collections Time Is Always Now, a finalist for the 2019 Able Muse Book Award, and Fetch, Muse, forthcoming from Able Muse Press in the fall of 2020. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in Baltimore Review, Valparaiso Review, Ocean State Review, Slice LiteraryCrab Orchard Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. Winner of Rattle‘s 2018 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, and past winner of Poetry Northwest‘s Richard Hugo Prize, she is a co-founder of Mud Season Review and a former director of the Burlington Writers Workshop. She does freelance editing and leads poetry workshops and literature classes through the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning at the University of Vermont.

Bill Drislane

Bill, of Jericho, is an avid enthusiast of music and poetry, and has performed, recited, and presented in numerous venues in Vermont and upstate New York. Recent work includes stage productions of Walt Whitman’s poetry in Whitman Aloud and recitations at the Burlington Irish Heritage Festival and at Montpelier’s PoemCity. He brings nonprofit board experience from past positions on the boards of HomeShare Vermont, Camp For Me, and Young Tradition Vermont. He makes a livelihood as an estates and trust attorney in Williston.

Tamra J. Higgins, Founder & Former President

Born in South Dakota and raised in Iowa, Higgins attended the University of Kansas, the University of Bordeaux III in Talence, France, and earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Modern Languages and Linguistics. After marrying and moving to Vermont in 1986, and while raising two daughters, Higgins continued her education at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont, where she earned an M.Ed. In 1993, she started her own business, a private after-school program which was among the first in the state, and which she then turned into a non-profit agency that is still in operation today. Higgins taught in the public schools of Lamoille County, Vermont, for 19 years, first at the elementary level for seven years and then at the middle school level as English teacher and Literacy Specialist. In July 2012, Higgins earned an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry at Stonecoast, University of Southern Maine. She founded Sundog Poetry Center, which operated as a for-profit business before developing it as a nonprofit entity. Higgins is current President of the Poetry Society of Vermont and the author of the poetry blog, “The Quality of Light.” Her work has appeared in many regional and national publications including Passages, Prairie Schooner, and Modern Haiku, and she has read her poetry in Vermont, Maine, and Ireland. Her first book of poetry, Nothing Saved Us: Poems of the Korean War, was published in the fall of 2014. In 2015, she published a limited quantity of her chapbook, Tenderbellies. Her poetry, photography, and blog, The Quality of Light, can be found at

Feel free to contact us at