The Exquisite Triumph of Wormboy

A collaborative with James Kochalka

This collaboration between two Vermont Laureates– one in poetry and one in cartooning– is very likely one of a kind. It is both whimsical and probing, wry and earnest. Though it mocks the format of epic poetry, it raises serious human issues: among many, the need (or is it the futility?) of persistence against long odds; the crucial but often heartbreaking nature of dear friendship; the appeal and the cruelty of the natural world; the allure, sometimes simultaneous, of despair and hope. The drawings bring the verse alive, and the poetry sheds light on the art.

In The Exquisite Triumph of Wormboy, multi-award winning illustrator and graphic novelist James Kochalka brings us a thematic collection of drawings that chronicle the exploits of a worm who embarks on an adventure of rescue, fueled by inescapable surges of bravery. This odyssey is aptly and expertly versified into an ekphrastic epic by former Vermont Poet Laureate Sydney Lea. Readers of all ages will be entertained by the sights, tension, suspense, and humor of this unique collection.

“Lea’s plainspoken New England voice has benefited from its multi-genre development, making the poems here easy in diction, resistant to lyric flights and focused on making sense of things.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Like his mentor Frost, Lea vividly contextualizes . . . his beloved rural New England.”
—Library Journal

“[Lea’s] elegant book [is] rhythmically satisfying, with its jazz-like riffs . . . by a man at the top of his game.”

Word/Galaxy Press • Concord, California


“Sydney Lea has always been a poet equally eloquent and wide-eyed before reality. This self-aware book of experience, stock-taking, and memory finds him just now, just here, a person still hopeful in the face of it all, a poet at the height of his powers.”
– Jane Hirshfield

Life isn’t easy, and we’re all scarred, traumatized to some degree. What is to be done? Lea responds in illuminating verse that expresses a reckoning with emotions that linger like ghosts in the bardo, hesitant to move on, having one more thing to say...This radiant collection will leave readers counting their blessings past, to come, and most certainly right here.

Four Way Books • New York, NY

Growing Old In Poetry: Two Poets, Two Lives

A collaborative with Fleda Brown

Sydney Lea and Fleda Brown, past poets laureate of their respective states and both nationally recognized writers who’ve given their lives to their art, have conspired to write an unusual book of essays. They’ve picked a wide variety of topics and headed out as they wished with each, covering a lot of territory, both artistic and memoiristic. Some of the pieces, like “Wild Animals,” are downright silly; some, like “Sex,” “Music,” and “Food,” are provocative; some, like “Clothes,” “Sports,” and “Houses,” appear ordinary but are ultimately revealing. The final essay offers, from each, a personal look at how a poet lives and writes in this troubling time. The excitement of this collection is in the details—how lives are lived and poems written over time, and at last, an entire body of work as witness.

Green Writers Press • Brattleboro, VT