Louise McNeill

In 1979, Governor Jay Rockefeller named her state poet laureate.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

West Virginia Poet Laureate Louise McNeill was born on her family’s Pocahontas County farm on January 9, 1911. Her first book, Gauley Mountain, was published in 1939. In it, she peppered her poems with the speech and dialect she’d grown up with.

With its rich tapestry of stories and characters, Gauley Mountain is still hailed as a classic work of American poetry.

Over the next few decades, she taught college English but didn’t publish another major collection until 1972.

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.