“In Neil Shepard’s Vermont Exit Ramps II, we journey to the kingdom of the unclaimed, the unnoticed, the (until now) unsung, the I-80 and I – 91 exit ramps of Vermont where wilderness and settlement interpenetrate in until now unremarked, yet remarkable ways. Layered as the rippled rock of Vermont’s Green Mountains, these poems display the poet’s nimble mind and nimble tongue and delight the reader with exactly what the road tripper travels for: that fresh experience waiting around every bend.”
– Christine M. Gelineau
By turns comic and elegiac, full of signs and portents, Vermont Exit Ramps II takes readers on a physical and emotional journey through the Green Mountain State. Combining a reporter’s instincts with a poet’s eyes and ears, Neil Shepard invites the reader, exit ramp by exit ramp, to wander through the surrounding ramplands, towns, and hilltop farms and to discover historical realities and imagined alternatives.
ROMAINE TENNEY (excerpt)
May 17, 2:00 p.m. Full sun, cumulus clouds
Hello black fly. Thanks for the welcome.
Now I know what Romaine Tenney cursed
and loved here on Tenney Hill Road: the sting
inside blossoming, the black bother
at the center of the eye bent on spring beauty.
Tenney knew what was coming, and it came:
the interstate that brought the commerce in,
and with it, the quick-buck with its quick
made and quick-fading values. It didn’t
value Tenney’s enterprise on a hill farm
that was collapsing around him. He lived
in the mud-room ell of his old family home…
photo by Anthony Reczek
NEIL SHEPARD is the author of eight books of poetry including Hominid Up (Salmon Press, 2015), (T)ravel/Un(t)ravel (Mid-List Press, 2011), This Far from the Source (Mid-List, 2006), I’m Here Because I Lost My Way (Mid-List, 1998), and Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat (First Book Award, Mid-List Press, 1993) and the chapbook, Vermont Exit Ramps (Big Table Publishing, 2012). His eighth book, Vermont Exit Ramps II, will be published this month from Green Writers Press and Sundog Poetry Center. Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Arts Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute and The Frost Place. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center, and he taught for several decades in the BFA Creative Writing Program at Johnson State College in Vermont until his retirement in 2009. 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 The Poets House and in the low-residency MFA writing program at Wilkes University (PA).
ANTHONY RECZEK lives in New England where he pursues landscape, editorial, and fine art photography. He is a contributing photographer and writer for Vermont magazine, and a contributing photographer for Vermont Life, along with a number of other print and online publications. In 2010, he created an online gallery for his images of New England, www.anthonyreczek.com, and posts there twice weekly.