May 18, 2012: Harshman Named West Virginia's Poet Laureate


On May 18, 2012, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin named Marc Harshman of Wheeling the state poet laureate. He succeeded the late Irene McKinney, who’d served in the post since 1994. Harshman is the ninth person to serve as poet laureate since the position was established in 1927.

Harshman is a storyteller, children’s author, and poet. His first book of poetry, Turning Out the Stones, was published in 1983, and his 1995 work, The Storm, was named a Smithsonian National Book for Children. He co-wrote another book, Red Are the Apples, with his wife, Cheryl Ryan Harshman, and he wrote Rocks in My Pocket with the late Doddridge County storyteller Bonnie Collins.

Harshman taught for many years, first at the college level and then in grade schools. For a time, he taught fifth and sixth grade at Sand Hill School in Marshall County, one of the last three-room schools in the state. He continues to visit schools and present workshops about writing.

Marc Harshman performed A Song for West Virginia, his first major commission as poet laureate, for the state’s 150th birthday celebration in 2013.