Poets Of The Pocahontas Hills Featuring Louise McNeill At Hillsboro Library October 16th
Hillsboro, WV – One of West Virginias most beloved poets will be the center of attention at a gala event this Saturday at the library in Hillsboro. Local poets, historians and fans will gather to celebrate the life of West Virginia Poet Laureate Louise McNeill.
The key note speaker for the event is Dr. John Baker, Professor of English at Concord University. He says she was a great influence on him back when he was a student at what was then Concord College.
“Well, she was a very knowledgeable woman first of all” says Dr. Baker “and had much to offer students. I think the thing that stood out about her was that she was obviously from West Virginia and she made no effort to disguise that. But she was a very fine professor, she was very traditional in the way she taught.”
“She just had a way of bringing literature very much alive; I just wanted to hold onto everything she said.”
Dr. Baker says McNeill had a profound influence on both his choice of career and in how he teaches his own classes. And he knows that her writing has also influenced many other writers. Yet, he says she perhaps doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.
“It’s unfortunate that so many people are not familiar with who McNeill is, and that’s one of the great things about this event in Hillsboro; that we can bring to light on her native ground who this very important West Virginia was” he says. “I’m just looking forward to being a part of that.”
Dr. Baker says McNeill stressed writing about what you know.
“I think her work certainly illustrates that you can write about the most simple everyday common things and make those subjects universal and meaningful to a very wide audience” he says. “She was very realistic in a lot of ways; she didn’t idealize everything but, at the same time she certainly makes living in the mountains an intriguing experience.”
Louise McNeill was named Poet Laureate of West Virginia in 1977, by then Governor Jay Rockefeller. She held that title until her death in 1993. Dr. Baker gives a preview of what he’ll talk about at the Hillsboro library Saturday.
“I am going to talk about her life at Concord” he says “and I want to incorporate as many poems during the time I have to speak. And also refer quite often to her own memoir, “The Milkweed Ladies” that is so interesting to look at along with her poetry.”
You’re invited to celebrate the life and times of Louise McNeill Saturday, October 16th at the library in Hillsboro. Festivities begin at 4:30pm with appetizers and old time music with Carey Bonasso. It’s a potluck, so please bring a dish to share. For more information, please call the Hillsboro library at 304-653-4936.