By Ron Miller, Special To The Standard
In addition to bringing nationally renowned poets and writers to Woodstock, the Bookstock Literary Festival promotes the homegrown literacy culture of Vermont and northern New England. Bookstock, which comes to town July 25-27, provides a public venue for small presses, specialized publishers, and self-published authors from our region.
Visitors to Bookstock have a wonderful opportunity, for no admission cost, to become acquainted with creative artists and literary entrepreneurs who enrich our cultural life. Several scheduled presentations feature locally or self-published authors, while the Bookstock Marketplace (exhibitor tents) will be filled with authors and small presses.
Harbor Mountain Press, with its office in White River Junction, is a perfect example of a small, specialized publisher giving voice to unusual work. It is a nonprofit poetry house making available translations by international poets and work by regional poets, including New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alice Fogel and HMP’s own Peter Money, who will read from their work on Friday at Bookstock.
Chelsea Green Publishing is also located in White River Junction. It has established a national reputation and following for its titles on nature and sustainable living. One of its authors, Ben Kilham, will be speaking at Bookstock about his lifelong study of black bears. Another, local economy activist Judy Wicks, will be speaking at a Sustainable Woodstock reception during Bookstock.
Bunker Hill Publishing, founded in 2002 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, moved to Piermont, New Hampshire, in 2005. They work closely with museums and cultural institutions as well as with individual authors and artists. The Billy Collins poem Voyage, an ode to the power of reading, was written in honor of John Cole, head of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. Carole Kitchel of Bunker Hill visualized the poem as an illustrated children’s book and Collins agreed to the project. The poem was illustrated by Karen Romagna and will be published in September. Bunker Hill was instrumental in bringing Collins to Bookstock. Green Writers Press is another Vermont publisher concerned with environmental issues. This new company, based in Brattleboro, aims to “spread a message of hope and renewal. We strive to build awareness to stop global warming.” Its books address subjects “that speak to quality of life and the beauty of nature.” The press produces its books sustainably, as well. Founder Dede Cummings and two of her authors, Greg Delanty and Patti Smith, will talk about their project on Saturday at Bookstock.
University Press of New England, headquartered in Lebanon, serves as the publishing arm of several institutions, including Dartmouth College. UPNE will be represented at Bookstock by Greg Flemming, author of a fascinating account of one sailor’s abduction during “the golden age of piracy” in the eighteenth century.
Plowboy Press in Lyndonville publishes handmade books in limited editions. Founded by Andrew Miller Brown in 2004 just after he graduated from Johnson State College, Plowboy Press focuses on rural life, farming, and Vermont, and it will soon publish a new work of poetry and prose about reconciling the farming life with the writing life by Julia Shipley, who is giving a workshop on chapbook making at Bookstock, One of Bookstock’s keynote presenters, Anita Diamant, has had several of her titles published by Woodstock-based Jewish Lights Publishing. Countryman Press is also based in Woodstock, and its editorial director, Kermit Hummel, will be on a panel giving writers tips on getting published; Countryman will also be displaying its titles in the Marketplace, as will Steerforth Press of Hanover and Spencer Hill Press of Contoocook, New Hampshire.
Bookstock also will also be showcasing projects of statewide cultural organizations. The Vermont Reads program of the Vermont Humanities Council promotes community discussion of selected books; this year’s title is R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, winner of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher award. Sam Drazin will lead a discussion about it at Bookstock. Two publications by the Vermont Historical Society will be presented at Bookstock: “Uncommon Law, Ancient Roads and Other Ruminations on Vermont Legal History” by author Paul Gillies, and “The Vermont Difference: Perspectives from the Green Mountain State,” which VHS co-published with the Woodstock Foundation.
Two well known Vermonters who publish their own work, Bill Schubart and Peter Miller, will give presentations, while several other selfpublished authors will have their books for sale at the Marketplace.
This article first appeared in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.