lost its poet laureate last week, Irene McKinney.
West Virginia Public Radio’s Glynis
Board and John Nakashima put together a wonderful remembrance of McKinney
that was broadcast on Tuesday morning. If you missed it, or if you’d like to hear it again, you can listen here.
Mountain Stage was fortunate enough to have McKinney
as a guest, most notably on our 400th show. Host Larry Groce paid tribute to McKinney
on stage last Sunday:
is saddened to note the passing of West Virginia’s Poet Laureate, Irene
McKinney on February 4, at age 72. She succumbed to cancer at her
family farm near Belington in Barbour County.
six books of poetry: The Girl With the Stone in Her Lap (1976), The
Wasps at the Blue Hexagons (1984), Quick Fire and Slow Fire (1988), Six
O'Clock Mine Report (1989), Vivid Companion (2004) and Unthinkable:
Collected Poems 1976-2004 (2009). I believe she is scheduled to have
another published posthumously.
She served as
the state’s Poet Laureate since 1993 and read her work on Mountain Stage four
times including our 400th show.
Her voice narrated the radio production of Louise McNeill’s “Gauley Mountain”
and at the passing of Louise, who was West Virginia’s last Poet Laureate, we
asked Gov. Gaston Caperton to appoint Irene to the post. I’m sure many
others made the same recommendation.
For some years
Irene taught creative writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College and during the
last three years founded and directed a Master of Fine Arts degree there.
introduction to the 2003 anthology, “Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia”
Irene said: ” I’m a hillbilly, a woman and a poet, and I understood early on that
nobody was going to listen to anything I had to say anyway, so I might as well
just say what I want to.”
And so she did.”