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(Madville Publishing, January 2024)

"This is an extraordinary book, its wise and luminous poems circling the disquiet and agitation at the edges of thought as narrator after narrator investigates and probes the many ways we perceive ourselves to fail in the eyes of others. Yet even as one narrator brilliantly describes his feelings of erasure as 'auditioning for a bit part in anonymity,' another admits, 'I like it here on the edge / of empire' and still another holds 'a grudge against / business as usual.' Reading Shepard’s beautifully crafted poems, which are alive with the music of colloquial American speech, I was reminded of the metaphysician Leo Bronstein’s observations on failure and success, that one is not the opposite of the other: 'Success is to be the achievement of a goal known, open, given. Failure, achievement of a goal not known yet, hidden and to be discovered. Friendship is to know this. Prophesy is about this. Spirituality means this.' The Book of Failures understands and beautifully articulates this wisdom. Its narrators resist easy wins, holding out for something larger and deeper, braver and more daring than what we think of as success, what the final narrator of the book calls 'a stubborn green.'"  -- Susan Mitchell


(Salmon Poetry, 2018)


"Neil Shepard's poems are expansive, meticulous in their emotional cartography, and always historically resonant while still discovering those troubled reckonings of the self in motion, in travel. What emerges is nothing less than an ethical aesthetic, a narrative architecture that constellates around a strong moral center even as, at times, the poet's confidence in that center quietly dissolves in the deep bath of experience. Yet this impeccably crafted collection remains the voice of a mature, hard-won, and individual poetic resolve." --David St. John.


Hilary Sideris for American Book Review

David Cooke for Manhattan Review

Christine Gelineau for Green Mountains Review


(Green Writers Press, 2016)


“In Vermont Exit Ramps II, we journey to the kingdom of the unclaimed, the unnoticed, the (until now) unsung, the I-89 and I-91 exit ramps of Vermont where wilderness and settlement interpenetrate in until now unremarked, yet remarkable ways. Layered as the rippled rock of Vermont’s Green Mountains, these poems display the poet’s nimble mind and nimble tongue and delight the reader with exactly what the road tripper travels for: that fresh experience waiting around every bend.” -- Christine Gelineau


Dante Di Stefano for Arcadia Magazine


(Salmon Poetry, 2015)

In Hominid Up, Shepard turns a nightmared, insomniac eye on both urban and rural landscapes: from the brassy multitudes of Manhattan, to the lone man standing in a northern stream. At the heart of this book is a darkly political vision of post-millennial America, exploring the tensions and flashpoints of class and race that lead us toward our days of reckoning. Whether examining “the ailments” on a city street where the Haves helicopter above the Have-nots, or the coastal communities from South Carolina to Maine, where the cruise-ship crowds mix uncomfortably with local fishermen, or the pastures of Vermont where developers buy up the hilltop acreage from cash-strapped farmers, Shepard immerses himself in this brazen new century and brings back “the bite and sting that bothers us all.”


Write the Book: Conversations on Craft


Dante Di Stefano for Arcadia Magazine

George Drew for Easy Street Magazine 


(Green Writers Press, 2012)

"We’ve long known this poet for his mastery of language, but in this extraordinarily inventive collection he shows himself a master too of both accuracy and invention. Dear reader, you will never again pass an exit ramp in Vermont or elsewhere as once you did.” --Sydney Lea


Vermont Public Radio

Conversation with Ramola D


Brian Fanelli for Poets' Quarterly 

Keenan Walsh for Seven Days 

Stephanie Rauschenbush for American Book Review

Tony Whedon for Mayday Magazine


(Mid-List Press, 2011)

“Through luscious dislocations of time and space, Shepard turns roving into an art and creates art from the sensuous apprehension that only a being in motion can give. Not only does the poet roam the world, he roams in time, making literature itself his landscape.”
-- Molly Peacock


Write the Book: Conversations on Craft

The Eggshell Parade: Contemporary Literature at SUNY-Binghampton

Conversation with Ramola D


Andrew Mulvania for American Book Review

Judith Slater for Rain Taxi


(Mid-List Press, 2006)

“In mature meditations, in sharply detailed memories, in muscular free verse and lightly worn habits of descriptive verve, Shepard manages to make the world his subject – from the racial conundrums of the South, to the habits of birds, to celebrations of an aging father and the birth and growth of a daughter. There are moods and tones – philosophic, emotional, humorous, skeptical, assertive, self-deprecatory – that broaden his poetic range, sharing his sense of the life journey as a voyage of discovery, as an adventure in which the imagination is our best means of responding to whatever life offers, especially when distance from ‘the source’ is a palpable fact.”

-- Eamon Grennan


(Mid-List Press, 1998)

“The poems of I’m Here Because I Lost My Way construct a history of self in context – in memory, in love lost and love discovered, in friendship and in landscape, and in the strange new mirrors of travel. In these poems’ realms of loss, the self is also appearing and disappearing, vanishing even as these patient and scrupulous lyrics discover its traces.” -- Mark Doty 


(Mid-List Press, 1993)

“Neil Shepard’s award-winning first book is an event of encouragement to me. In the low-voiced eloquence of his meditative lyrics I find no artifice, no pretension or faddishness, but instead clarity of mind and heart and honesty of technique...Moreover, in all these poems, Shepard brings us an astonishing originality of imagery, objects we had never thought of before. To read these poems is an awakening. I hope it comes to many readers.” -- Hayden Carruth


(Green Writers Press, 2019; edited by Neil Shepard & Tamra Higgins)

Inspired by the original Poets and Their Craft Lecture Series, Sundog Poetry Center and Green Writers Press present 17 essays on poetic craft by some of Vermont’s leading poets. This anthology offers thought-provoking essays on the elements of poetic craft by some of Vermont’s leading poets. It will be an exciting and invaluable resource, whether you are an accomplished poet or a reader curious about poetry’s allure, a student seeking insights into poetic craft or a teacher seeking ways to impart these. Among this eclectic group of essayists are two Vermont poets-laureate as well as many poets with award-winning books and national prizes. Our commonality amongst them is their love of Vermont - its readers and writers, its landscapes and values - and their desire to communicate through poetic means.

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