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Bookstock Festival Offers First Literary Inspiration Award


  • Courtesty Of Jeff Woodward Photography
  • Dede Cummings

Since it opened for business in 2013, Green Writers Press has worked to inspire writers and readers in Vermont and beyond to think differently, not just about publishing but about the world at large. The small Brattleboro imprint has made a name for itself by championing environmentally friendly publishing practices, mirroring its stated mission "to spread a message of hope and renewal" and "build awareness to stop the global climate catastrophe."

In recognition of those efforts, the annual Bookstock literary festival in Woodstock has named the boutique publishing house the first recipient of a new honor, the Vermont Literary Inspiration Award. Green Writers Press founder, author and activist Dede Cummings will accept the award before the festival's keynote address on Saturday, July 27, at Woodstock Town Hall Theatre. Bookstock, which is free and open to the public, runs Friday through Sunday, July 26 through 28.

"This award is for the authors and readers and staff at Green Writers Press who have given so much to try and keep an independent press going in Vermont," Cummings told Seven Days. "It's just a thrill."

Green Writers Press was chosen from among a handful of candidates statewide to receive the award, according to Bookstock volunteer treasurer Peter Rousmaniere, who sat on the selection committee. He said the press exemplifies the mission of Bookstock itself.

"Bookstock wants to support individuals and organizations that support literary life in Vermont," he explained. "Green Writers Press has published a lot of Vermont authors."

In a statement announcing the award, Bookstock coordinator Jordan Engel wrote, "The Green Writers Press is quintessentially Vermont."

Besides publishing books by local writers, such as former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin and poets Tony Whedon and Gary Margolis, Green Writers Press has an increasingly global reach, with authors and poets on its roster from Maine to the Canary Islands. Earlier this year, it was named one of three finalists for the national Association of Writers & Writing Programs' Small Press Publisher Award for nonprofit presses.

"I think Bookstock is really stepping up, with a focus on Vermont being so independent and in the vanguard [on social and political issues]," Cummings said. "And that's what we want to be." She added that her authors routinely donate a percentage of their royalties to environmental causes or organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Literary Inspiration Award doesn't come with a financial pay-off. "They get a big, warm hug from us," Rousmaniere joked.

But the honor should help raise the profile of recipients — and, in the case of Green Writers Press, to amplify its broader mission, which includes renewed urgency for a host of political and environmental issues, noted Cummings.

"This award comes at just the right time for us," she said. "There is a groundswell of people searching not just for meaning but action: 'What can I do?'"

Moving forward, Rousmaniere anticipates that Bookstock will bestow at least one Literary Inspiration Award annually, and perhaps more. He said the honor could go to various literary people and institutions, including bookstores, teachers, workshops and writers' associations.

"All of those fit into the spectrum of people who support literary life," Rousmaniere said.

"I'm so proud of Bookstock for not just recognizing literary inspiration but what's behind it," Cummings said. "And I think the motive of selecting us for this award is the environmental message that our press brings to the publishing world."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Green Writers Press Wins Inaugural Vermont Literary Inspiration Award"