The Poetry Break

every third Thursday of the month
  • Hosted by Marc Harshman

"It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." 

- William Carlos Williams  

West Virginia Poet Laureate MarcHarshman is teaming up with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to bring more poetry to the airwaves. Each month a new episode is released featuring the work of a different poet. Harshman curates the poetry and offers commentary. This podcast is for those who crave poetry like they crave chocolate or water, and for those who just need an occasional poetry break.

Theme music by: Ecology for Keyboards


Mitchell L. H. Douglas is an Associate Professor of English, and the director of the creative writing program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is also a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem fellow, and Poetry Editor for PLUCK!: the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture.

West Virginia's poet laureate Marc Harshman highlights here work of the late William Bronk.

Bronk won the National Book Award for poetry in 1981 long before his death in 1999.

Do not look to Bronk for metaphor or imagery, but instead - masterful use of syntax to evoke nuances of life. Harshman pulls some of the spare poetry of the New York native William Bronk in this month's Poetry Break.

Isabella Scafidi

As a young man Steve Scafidi hungered "for something like magnificence." Or so he explained when asked by Marc Harshman how he came to writing poetry. 

"I found it reading aloud some Walt Whitman one evening and I never quit," Scafidi said in conversation with Harshman. "I remember thinking to myself, 'my life is changing here but don't make a big deal out of this -- just follow the thread of it.' And I did."

Scafidi is a cabinet maker in the Eastern Panhandle. He encourages aspiring writers to do more than write, so that metaphors may be discovered and writing enriched with life.

He was a featured poet in the Wheeling Poetry Series. He spoke with Harshman and delivered some of his published poems. 

Ann W. Olson

Host Marc Harshman calls her, “the most ‘can-do-anything’ poet in America.” George Ella Lyon is a novelist, essayist, teacher, activist, musician, lyricist, children’s author, playwright, and poet. She was named poet laureate of Kentucky in 2015.

Marc Harshman, poet laureate of West Virginia has just seen his second full length collection of poetry published by the Vandalia Press at West Virginia University called Believe What You Can

Carina Romano

Linda Pastan has had a prolific career during the course of which she won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and twice was named a finalist for the National Book Award. She is, as well, past poet laureate of Maryland.

Richard Hague was raised in that northern outpost of Appalachia, Steubenville, Ohio, and has lived his adult life in another Appalachian city of Ohio, Cincinnati.  The author of over eight books of poetry, and numerous chapbooks, his collected volume, During the Recent Extinctions, won the prestigious Weatherford Award as the finest book of poetry published in Appalachia in 2013.  

Brett Weinstein

She was born in Knoxville and raised in Cincinnati. The poems of Nikki Giovanni reflect her pride as both a black American woman, and an author with deep roots in Appalachia.  She is revered not only for her poetry but for her work as essayist, children’s author, activist, and teacher. The recipient of 7 NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes medal, a Grammy nominee, National Book Award finalist – her achievements are unique and impressive.

Jayne Anne Phillips is one of the finest novelists living in America today. Her many books have garnered honors that include being a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, short listed for the prestigious Orange Prize, one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, a New York Times Best Seller and many, many others.

Raised in Covington, Virginia, and Hinton West Virginia, Jeff Mann is an author of novels, essays, short fiction, a memoir, and poems. 

A significant portion of his work examines the LGBTQ experience, especially as witnessed in Appalachia. He’s won many awards for his work including a Rainbow Award for Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War, as well as the John Preston Short Fiction Award and many others. 

Mann is currently associate professor in creative writing at Virginia Tech.

This month's Poetry Break features the work of Maggie Anderson.

"Maggie Anderson is that rare gift [to all writers] in that she is held in equal esteem as not only a superlative poet but a superlative teacher," said March Harshman.  "Professor Emerita and past Director of the Wick Poetry Program at Kent State University, she is the author of many highly acclaimed volumes of poetry."

Cornell Chronicle

Robert Morgan is a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Essayist, novelist, teacher, short-story author, poet, and “an unassuming gentleman and a friend to artists everywhere,” Harshman said. His novel Gap Creek was a selection of the Oprah Book Club and a New York Times Best Seller.

WV State Archives (WVSA)

West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman delivers the poetry of his predecessor's predecessor in this Poetry Break, Louise McNeill.

"I know I'm in the presence of a truly superior poet when   I go back and rediscover poems and realize how amazingly timely they still are," said host and curator Marc Harshman. 

Kate Long

West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman delivers the poetry of his predecessor in this Poetry Break. Irene McKinney was a remarkable woman, greatly admired as a poet and teacher, " Harshman said. "She was the kind of poet who could accomplish in a few seconds that deep trust with her readers that compel them to follow her words." 

Andrew Croft

A new podcast from West Virginia Public Broadcasting features poets from Appalachia and around the world. The Poetry Break is hosted and curated by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.

Harshman delivers poems and commentary, and the first episode features some of his own work from Green-Silver and Silent , and published by Bottom Dog Press (2012), and the forthcoming Believe What You Can to be published by Vandalia Press of West Virginia University in 2016.