News Honorary Degree Citation: Verandah Porche
For more than 40 years you have been the most community-minded poet in Vermont, opening our ears to the creative voices within schools, nursing homes, prisons and neighborhoods.
Born in New Jersey and graduated from Boston University, you founded the Total Loss Farm with friends in nearby Guilford, where you still live with your daughter. You have published three fine books of poetry, and your work has appeared in numerous magazines. Where you really make your mark is as a “public poet.”
You said, “I’ve made a living stringing words together. I wanted my life to be a poem. Later, I wanted yours as well,” referring to your many rich collaborations.
You were one of the very first poets this young arts administrator placed in a classroom residency in my very first job with Vermont Arts Council, in 1970, and you are still one of the most active poet-in-the-schools. You are the longest serving faculty member of the Governor’s Institute on the Arts, engaging promising high school students in the art of writing.
You developed a practice called “told poetry,” shared narratives that enable people to create, preserve and share personal literature, working in crisis centers, hospitals, factories and senior centers. You shared the collected narratives from Guilford in the Broad Brook Anthology, a play commemorating the town’s 250th anniversary.
A Vermont Arts Council panel said, “Verandah sees our living, breathing communities and people as American masterpieces.” “She puts this light onto each person, with so much appreciation and honor. Now you see that everyone is extraordinary.”
Marlboro College is a community that also brings out the extraordinary in students. Verandah Porche, it is our pleasure to confer upon you the degree: Doctor of Humane Letters.