The third annual Burlington Book Festival has netted an impressive headliner: prize-winning novelist and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates. The author of an astounding total of 35 novels - her latest is this year's The Gravedigger's Daughter - Oates has won the National Book Award and been a Pulitzer nominee and three-time finalist for the Nobel Prize. She's also a poet, essayist and frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Oates' moody, gothic-tinged fiction is quintessentially New England . . .
Speaking of contributions to literature: Middlebury-based Ruth Stone is Governor Jim Douglas' pick to be Vermont's next State Poet, the Vermont Arts Council announced Tuesday. The 92-year-old has received numerous awards over her long career, including two Guggenheims. One even bears her name - Vermont College has been handing out the Ruth Stone Prize in Poetry since 2004. Though born in Virginia, Stone has been a Green Mountain resident for five decades - surely long enough to earn another coveted title: "Real Vermonter." The VAC will host a ceremony inducting Stone on July 26 at 4 p.m. in the House Chamber of the Statehouse. Past State Poets Galway Kinnell, Ellen Bryant Voigt and Grace Paley will be on hand as well . . . It's not every art opening that attracts a United States senator. Unless he's the star of the show. The son of a Montpelier printer, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has long been known as a passionate shutterbug. This Thursday, July 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., he and wife Marcelle will attend the reception for his exhibit, entitled "World Leaders." The color photographs include shots of the Dalai Lama, the late Pope John Paul II's funeral and "history-changing bill signings taken behind several presidents." Would that include the one of George W. Bush wearing Mickey Mouse ears? Whatever. The tough chair of the judiciary committee also likes to rub shoulders with pop-culture lefties. Hence the photos of "backstage moments with musical icons Bono and the Grateful Dead." Sounds like more fun than Senate hearings . . .