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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Six Vermont Artists and Art Advocates Recognized at Governor's Arts Awards

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 3:43 PM

Jerry Williams, left, and Chris Miller - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Jerry Williams, left, and Chris Miller

Last evening,  November 14, Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Arts Council honored six Vermont artists at the annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony, held at the Statehouse in Montpelier.


This year’s Award for Excellence in the Arts went to two recipients, selected by Scott from among 20 nominees: Sculptors Chris Miller and Jerry Williams, who worked together on a new Ceres statue for the top of the Statehouse dome. (The previous one had rotted and was removed earlier this year.) The figure, an allegorical representation of Vermont’s agricultural heritage, will be installed on November 30.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks at Sold-Out UVM Event

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 9:15 AM

Ta-Nehisi Coates - COURTESY OF GABRIELLA DEMCZUK
  • Courtesy of Gabriella Demczuk
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
Best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates was 33 when he voted for the first time. That was in 2008 and he voted for Barack Obama, Coates told the 3,200-strong audience at the University of Vermont’s indoor tennis courts on Tuesday evening.

The West Baltimore, Md., native said he had a “very radical but limited view of politics." Coates had felt that voting was "bad" and thought he would end up endorsing “for the lesser evil, at best.” But a professor friend recently told him, “Yes, that’s true, but I’m in favor of less evil.”

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Friday, October 12, 2018

National Book Award Finalists Have Ties to Vermont College of Fine Arts, Dartmouth

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 2:05 PM

M.T. Anderson
  • M.T. Anderson
Last month, I wrote about how Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier has been cleaning up when it comes to literary honors, producing a wealth of National Book Award winners and finalists. Seems this year is no exception. Yesterday, the college announced that two more of its affiliates are finalists in the prestigious competition.

Poet Terrance Hayes, a past National Book Award winner and a MacArthur Fellow, will be a guest writer at the college's MFA in Writing program this December. A finalist for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, written during the first 200 days of the Trump presidency, he's the artist-in-residence at New York University.

Closer to home, East Calais young-adult author M.T. Anderson is also no stranger to the NBA roster: He won for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party in 2006 and was a finalist for Feed in 2002.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Writer Moustafa Bayoumi to Discuss New York's Arab Community Post 9/11

Posted By on Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 5:00 AM

Moustafa Bayoumi - COURTESY OF NEVILLE ELDER
  • Courtesy of Neville Elder
  • Moustafa Bayoumi
In the American classic The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois asked, “How does it feel to be a problem?” The book, written during the Jim Crow era, consisted of several essays on the black experience, including the rise of the black church, education in the South and racism.

More than a century later, Moustafa Bayoumi posits that Arabs and Muslim Americans are the “new problem” of American society since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Jensen Beach Receives Vermont Book Award

Posted By on Sat, Sep 23, 2017 at 11:08 PM

Allison Titus and Jensen Beach, holding his Vermont Book Award made by artist Jesse Cooper - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Allison Titus and Jensen Beach, holding his Vermont Book Award made by artist Jesse Cooper
At a gala in Montpelier earlier this evening, author Jensen Beach was pronounced the winner of the 2017 Vermont Book Award for his 2016 short  story collection Swallowed by the Cold. The $5,000 award is given by the Vermont College of Fine Arts every year to the author of an outstanding work of literature.

Poet Major Jackson, who received the honor last year, made the announcement. In addition, VCFA founding president Thomas Christopher Greene used his time on the stage to unveil a new scholarship sponsored by Phoenix Books in late Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher's name for students in VCFA's writing and publishing program.

Selected by the judging panel from eight finalists for the award, Beach teaches in the undergraduate program at Johnson State College and is a faculty member in the graduate writing and publishing program at VCFA. When he took the stage, he said, "I've never won anything in my life — not even a fucking lottery ticket." He tacked on praise for the college and Vermont itself, saying, "this place means a lot to me."

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Visionary Editor Judith Jones, of New York and Vermont, Dies at 93

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 6:07 PM


Judith Jones - FILE
  • File
  • Judith Jones
Judith Jones, an editor,  author and part-time Walden resident, died early Wednesday morning at her home in the Northeast Kingdom, according to her stepdaughter Bronwyn Dunne of South Burlington. The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Jones was 93 and had worked as an editor at Alfred A. Knopf for more than half a century.  She was perhaps best known for seeing to publication the manuscripts that would become the books Anne Frank: The Diary of  a Young Girl and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  In a 2010 interview with this reporter , Jones described  Child's cookbook as  "manna from heaven."

In addition to her work with cookbook writers, Jones was a literary editor who edited all the novels (and other books) by John Updike. Other authors Jones worked with include John Hersey and Anne Tyler.

"I think her most important contribution was  probably making cookbook writers be significant," Dunne said. "That is, she kind of blended her literary tradition with her interest in food.

"There was this kind of marvelous thing that she loved the writer's voice," Dunne continued. "She felt that way about John Updike and she felt that way about Lidia Bastianich.  It was very important that their voices be heard."

Jones grew up in Manhattan and her primary home was in the city, but she had lifelong ties to Vermont. Her paternal grandparents lived in Montpelier, in the big white house on the corner of Bailey Avenue and State Street. As a child of 11 or 12 she left New York and the Brearley School for a year to live with her grandmother, a choice Jones made for herself, Dunne said.

It was during childhood visits to her grandparents' home that Jones first gained an appreciation for food, she told Seven Days in a 2011 piece about a dinner in Greensboro to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Film Tour Remembers NEK Novelist Howard Frank Mosher

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Howard Frank Mosher - JAKE MOSHER
  • Jake Mosher
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Film history is littered with failed adaptations of novels. Oftentimes a film adaptation falls prey to the commercial time constraints of movies, and the necessity of wholesale excising of text. Sometimes it’s just a matter of poor casting decisions. Then there are authors like James Joyce and William Faulkner, whose stream-of-consciousness styles are for the most part unfilmable.

But occasionally, a writer and director’s artistic sensibilities coalesce with such kinship that their paths seemed destined to cross. Such was the case with director Jay Craven and celebrated Northeast Kingdom novelist Howard Frank Mosher, who died from cancer on January 29 at the age of 74.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Phoenix Books Essex Moves to New Location — Around the Corner

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 3:32 PM

The future Phoenix Books Essex location - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • The future Phoenix Books Essex location
Phoenix Books Essex — the flagship retailer of the Vermont bookstore company — is moving, a little. In mid-July, the store will move to 2 Carmichael Street, around the corner from its current location at 21 Essex Way.

The Essex store is one of a handful owned by Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner — in Rutland, Burlington and Chester (Phoenix Books Misty Valley). They're also new co-owners of Vermont's oldest independent bookstore, the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Phoenix Books Burlington Unveils Kid-Friendly Mural

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail) - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail)
Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline marching in front of Edmunds Middle School. Frog and Toad in City Hall Park. Dragons who love tacos catching a bite on Church Street. Stephen Huneck's Sally getting a walk — from a cat! — near the Winooski Bridge.

These are some of the whimsical details that careful observers will spot in the mural by Underhill artist Kristin Richland that was officially unveiled last night in the children's section of Phoenix Books Burlington. It's part of Children's Book Week (May 1 to 7), which the store will also celebrate with a special story time on Saturday devoted to Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri's Dragons Love Tacos.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Howard Frank Mosher's Imagination of Vermont: A Tribute

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:50 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - COURTESY OF JAY CRAVEN
  • Courtesy of Jay Craven
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont writer Howard Mosher died on Sunday, January 29. Filmmaker Jay Craven worked closely with Mosher since 1985 when he optioned the story rights to his book Where the Rivers Flow North. Craven has made five films based on Mosher’s stories. He and actor Rusty DeWees, who appeared in all of Craven’s Mosher films, will appear this Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m., at the Stowe Town Hall to talk about their collaboration with Mosher. They'll also screen Where the Rivers Flow North (Friday) and A Stranger in the Kingdom (Saturday).

Like thousands of Vermonters who have been touched by Howard Mosher and his writing, I feel a deep sense of loss at the realization of life without him. No one has produced a larger body of work exploring the distinctive character and culture of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. No one has been more generous to fellow writers, taking time to chat, read their work and help them. No one was more tirelessly committed to his readers, through his cross-country sojourns in his 20-year-old Chevy Celebrity (dubbed the “loser cruiser") and his frequent signings at independent bookstores throughout New England.

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