Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, winner of the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize and the 2015 Vermont Book Award. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Vermont Studio Center, The Frost Place, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Vermont Arts Council, and The Vermont Arts Endowment Fund.
Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Verse Daily, and in such journals as American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Collagist, Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, and Rattle. A graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she teaches at Montpelier High School and lives in Montpelier, Vermont.
"For poet Kerrin McCadden, a headlong gaze into one’s life is an excursion into the possibilities of language and song that becomes with each poem a celebration of intelligence and light. Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes is revelatory and perfectly cadenced to the spiritual agonies and joys of living in our time." - Major Jackson, 2004 Poet in Residence at The Frost Place
What is Kerrin Reading?
I’ve been re-reading Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s Song, again, slowly, a poem every other night or so, as a kind of prayer to her and to all of us. Somehow, once we lose someone, their poems seem to deepen. They solidify, because now the poet can’t reconsider, reorganize or revise, but they also get larger, as if the poet now also meant so much else than the words used to mean. I am certain this latter notion is an act of imagination on my part, but I will say that losing Brigit Pegeen Kelly was an earthly trick that only acts of imagination can soothe. I miss her on this planet.
Somehow, once we lose someone, their poems seem to deepen.
Speaking of imagination, I have also been reading Roger Reeves’ King Me, which rocks my notion of myself as an imaginative writer. I found myself mesmerized inside the poems, but also calculating how a person could write such poems—trying to solve this for myself. I would read and be transfixed, but then stop and try to consider the creative process. I even tried to write a few poems using his poems as “forms”—trying to embody what felt like next level imagination. I admire the flight and sweep of his eye in his poems.
I’ll be in Ethiopia soon, so I’ve picked up Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, because it was recommended to me. Other than that, I’m a judge this year for the Vermont Book Award, which means a sea of collections and novels by Vermont authors is on its way to me. I’m clearing the decks for those waves.
Poetry Programs at The Frost Place
Conference on Poetry and Teaching June 24 - 28, 2017
Held each year in June, the Conference on Poetry and Teaching is a unique opportunity for teachers to workclosely with both their peers and a team of illustrious poets who have particular expertise in working with teachers at all levels.
The Frost Place Writing Intensive is a creative addition to the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. The day-and-a-half reading and writing workshop directly follows the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. Led by renowned poet-teacher Kamilah Aisha Moon, it gives teachers the opportunity to focus entirely on their own creative growth.
Spend a week at “intensive poetry camp” with writers who are deeply committed to learning more about the craft of writing poetry. The Frost Place Poetry Conference offers daily workshops, classes, lectures, writing and revising time in a supportive and dynamic environment.
Join a select community of poets for 5-1/2 days at the end of next July and into August to refresh your artistic inspiration in a setting of great natural beauty. Have your poems-in-progress given generous and focused attention in this intimate setting. Our specialty is unparalleled access to a faculty of celebrated contemporary poets, and our goal is to send you home charged up to re-enter your own work.
Becoming the Associate Director of the Conference on Poetry and Teaching
I’m excited—so excited—to work in service of the Conference on Poetry and Teaching at The Frost Place. One simple pleasure is spending time at that sacred place. It is magical there, and whether or not Robert Frost is a poet you love or pull away from, I warrant that the intention and energy of his work there lingers. Another, greater pleasure is working with Dawn Potter and Maudelle Driskell. At the helm of this ship are two powerful poets, and any time we can pull poets together to work in service of helping others generate more poems, especially at a time like this, is in service of a better world. To get to work with Dawn and Maudelle to help teachers teach poetry and deepen their practice as poets makes my life as a poet and teacher come full circle. I was every single one of these teachers. I’d give anything to help them on their way.
Teaching in the Workshop Environment
I prize imagination, but I am also highly interested in how craft serves imagination in a poem. In trying to meet the intention of a poem, I aim to test various craft elements in consideration of their effectiveness in service of imagination. I like to consider where the poet might get out of the way of the poem. I approach every poem asking myself what the poem might still want, as if revision is in process. I don’t approach workshop as if it were the final nail being hammered into the poem, or the place where it might receive its blessing, but as a place where the poem can be reopened, reconsidered.
Latin@ and Gregory Pardlo Scholarships
This scholarship is designed to encourage the Latin@ voice in poetry and the literary arts, both at The Frost Place and in the broader literary community. It covers tuition, room and board, and travel for The Frost Place Conference on Poetry. The recipient of the scholarship will be selected from the applicant pool by a small panel of readers committed to the Latin@ voice in poetry. The selection will be based solely on the merit of the work submitted and the responses to the application questions. Applicants should self-identify as Latin@, have a strong commitment to the Latin@ community, and be a minimum of 21 years of age. Learn more and apply.
Gregory Pardlo Scholarship
The Gregory Pardlo Scholarship for Emerging African American Poets is open to African American poets writing in English who have published up to one book of poetry. The winner will receive a full scholarship to attend the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, July 30 – August 4, 2017, including room and board (valued at approximately $1,550), and will give a featured reading at the Seminar. This scholarship, which is funded by an anonymous donor, was named to honor Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and faculty at The Frost Place 2015 Poetry Seminar. Learn more and apply.
Application deadline: May 31, 2017
Kerrin's Writing Habits
Right now I’m working on finishing my second collection, which means I’ve been writing fewer new poems. The collection, functioning like a very large single poem might, takes up my imagination. Instead of thinking about new poems and new directions for new work, I try to hold his collection in my head, roll it around. Some days, I realize revisions I should make to it, or to poems within it. I like to do a lot of this work in my head while I’m driving, or walking somewhere, or waiting for an appointment, or in an hour I find during my teaching day. I also spend a lot of time not looking at it at all, staying away from it so that when I return, I might see something new I can fix or generate. This collection-building is a lot like fermentation, seems like, but I’d like to finish it up within the year. I’m looking forward to moving onto whatever the next poems are. For now, I’m finding that what new poems do come area smaller/shorter.
Have You Bought Your Birch Trees Yet?
The Frost Place has partnered with American Heritage Trees for the past several years. Each year we collect seeds from the birch trees at The Frost Place and ship them off to Tennessee where they are planted, cared for, and grown by the folks at American Heritage Trees. The trees have matured and are available for purchase. A percentage of the profit goes back to The Frost Place. Now you can enjoy Robert Frost's "Birches" all year long!
Passerines by Kerrin McCadden
New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud
The New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud northern region semi-finals were held at Jean's Playhouse in Lincoln, NH on February 16. Executive Director of The Frost Place, Maudelle Driskell, and Assistant to the Director, Paige Roberts, were a part of the panel of judges for this event. The New Hampshire finals will take place on March 10, 2017 at the New Hampshire State House in Concord. Each year, The Frost Place sponsors this event by awarding the teacher of the winning student a scholarship to participate at the Conference on Poetry and Teaching.
Participants from the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud semi-finals at Jean's Playhouse. Photograph courtesy of Cheryl Senter.