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2012 Ralph Nading Hill Winner: Diana Licher-Goodband’s “Dreaming of Apples”

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Web Exclusives

Diana Lischer-Goodband of Dummerston, Vermont, is the winner of the 2012 Ralph Nading Hill, Jr. literary prize awarded annually by Green Mountain Power and Vermont Life magazine.

Ms. Lischer-Goodband’s winning poem, “Dreaming of Apples” begins: “I dream of apples like some people dream of money, love and success.” The poem follows the seasons in a Vermont orchard from winter, through spring blossoms, to ripening fruit and finally, the harvest. The names of old apple varieties weave throughout the poem: “Hudson’s Golden Gem, Black Oxford, Roxbury Russet, Sheep’s Nose, Blue Pearmain, Hubbardston Nonesuch.”

Mary Hegarty Nowlan, editor of Vermont Life, commented: “This poem stood out because of its light touch and thought-provoking, memorable descriptions. You can’t help but smile reading it. The author’s passion for apples is endearing, and the poem’s literary references and evocative images add an additional level of enjoyment. It’s a wonderful contemporary poem.”

Diana Lischer-Goodband liveson a 200 year-old farm in Dummerston, Vermont with her orchardist husband, Ezekiel Goodband. She is a professional grant writer for a national non-profit organization, The Student Conservation Association. She has lived in Vermont for 35 years, and has been a paralegal, a librarian, a Vermont Public Radio commentator, and a columnist for the Brattleboro Reformer and The Commons newspaper. She has studied poetry with Verandah Porche, Chard DeNoird, Tom Lux and Carol Frost. Her poetry has appeared in regional publications, and the New Hampshire composer, Lawrence Segal set one of her poems to music.

Lischer-Goodband says: “My first poem, ‘Black Bear’ was written as part of my senior thesis at Vermont College. When it won an Honorable Mention in the Anthology of New England Writers, I decided to take my poetry seriously. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, and many of my poems have rural themes. I wrote ‘Dreaming of Apples’ in honor of the work that my husband, Zeke has done to create an orchard with more than 80 heirloom apple varieties.”

Ms. Lischer-Goodband will receive a $1,500 prize. The award is named for the late Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., a Vermont historian and writer and long-time member of Green Mountain Power’s Board of Directors. It is considered by Vermont writers to be one of the state’s premier literary prizes.

The selection was made by an independent panel of judges: Mary Hegarty Nowlan, editor of Vermont Life; Tom Slayton, past editor of Vermont Life; Tony Marro, retired executive editor of Newsday; Alison Freeland, a 1994 winner of the Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., award; Brian Vachon, retired vice president of communications at National Life of Vermontand a former Vermont Life editor; and Steve Terry, Green Mountain Power senior executive.


For Z.

By Diana Lischer-Goodband

I dream of apples like some people dream of money, love and success.
I just want apples: round, glistening and scented like a mountain morning;
a treasure chest of garnets, rubies and golden globes of perfect fruit:

Hudson’s Golden gem, Black Oxford, Roxbury Russet.

I dream of apples in the winter, when the world is sleeping.
Apples waiting to be pruned before the arrival of the carnival of bee hives,
Their colored boxes alerting our bear-of-a-dog to beware of bees.

I dream of apples in the spring, when apple blossoms shiver,
Shaking their pink confetti over intoxicated bees buzzing,
Careening in frantic circuitry of bee-lines to flowers soft with pollen.

In summer, the fruit grows plump like well-fed children
Playing in the sun, cheeks flushed from the exertion of ripening.
I dream of their fruition, and my desire for apples grows stronger:

Sheepnose, Blue Permain, Hubbardston Nonesuch.

I dream that the fruit will bear me to ecstasy-
To pie, perhaps to dream of more voluptuous fruit,
The sweet-tart crunch of taut apple flesh.

In fall, the trees beckon with perfumed temptation,
Their apples overbearing, overwhelming:

Holstein, Esopus, Maiden’s Blush.

Dreaming of apples-

only harvest means anything to me.

This poem is copyrighted.

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