MONTPELIER — Poet Kerrin McCadden of Plainfield has won the first ever Vermont Book Award for her collection of poetry titled “Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes.” McCadden earned her award during the Vermont Book Award Gala at Vermont College of Fine Arts on Saturday, Sept. 26. President Tom Greene presented the award, which Vermont artist Tyrie Brown crafted. McCadden also received $5,000 with the award.
During her acceptance speech, McCadden thanked her family and the college. She also wanted to thank her students at Montpelier High School. “They asked me, about 10 years ago, to start taking risks with my own work like I asked them to do,” she said. “If I can say anything, it’s to encourage young people to show up at the page.”
McCadden has earned numerous awards and several fellowships for her poetry. Her work has appeared in the “Best American Poetry” series, and in journals such as the “American Poetry Review,” “Green Mountains Review” and VCFA’s “Hunger Mountain.”
“Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes” previously won the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize. Poet David St. John has called the collection “one of the most compelling and powerful debut collections in recent American poetry.”
The Vermont Book Award was created to honor a state uniquely suited for creative enterprise. Seven judges chose McCadden from among five other authors and poets, which included Leland Kinsey from Barton, Gary Lee Miller from Montpelier, Jessica Hendry Nelson from Winooski, Dana Walrath from Underhill and Meg Wolitzer from New York, N.Y. In order to be nominated, the book must first be a work of outstanding literary merit. The book must also share a deep connection with the state of Vermont; it must be set in Vermont, published by a Vermont press or penned by a Vermont writer.
The gala highlighted Vermont’s extraordinary creative community and featured many notable Vermont writers and artists. Approximately 175 guests attended the event, with Vermont resident and National Book Award winner Will Alexander giving the keynote address. Guests also heard readings from this year’s book award finalists.