Poetry

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Entries - Entry Category: Poetry

Angelou, Maya

aka: Marguerite Annie Johnson
Maya Angelou was an internationally renowned bestselling author, poet, actor, and performer, as well as a pioneering activist for the rights of African Americans and of women. Her first published book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), was an autobiographical account of her childhood, including the ten years she lived in Stamps (Lafayette County) with her grandmother. The popular and critical success of the book was the foundation of her career as an author and public figure, as well as the basis of her identification as an Arkansas author. She was in the first group of inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1993. She held over fifty honorary university degrees, along with many other awards recognizing her accomplishments in the …

Ballard, George Pool

George Pool Ballard published poems in newspapers in Fayetteville (Washington County) as well as a poetry collection, unusual feats for an African-American poet in the 1920s. Although he has been nearly forgotten, Ballard is a significant figure in the literary history of Arkansas, as his life and poetry provide insights into the history and culture of Fayetteville and into the era of segregation in which he lived and wrote. Details about George Ballard’s life are severely limited. Ballard was born on January 4, 1882, on his parents’ small farm near the rural community of Cincinnati in western Washington County. Since no public schools were available to African Americans in this area of Arkansas, Ballard probably did not receive a formal …

brigham, besmilr moore

aka: Bess Miller Moore
Besmilr Moore Brigham was an award-winning poet and short-story writer who lived in Arkansas for decades. She came to prominence during the women’s movement of the 1960s, and her work is noted for its innovative structure, sound, and rhythm. Like poet e. e. cummings, she used a lower-case version of her name for her published works. Bess Miller Moore was born on September 28, 1913, in Pace, Mississippi. Her grandfather was Choctaw. She later changed her name to the more phonetic spelling “Besmilr.” She graduated from Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Texas and later studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she met and married Roy Brigham, who worked for a newspaper. Brigham’s poems have been …

Burris, Sidney

Sidney Johnson Burris is a prolific writer of essays, criticism, and poetry. His poetry is as influenced by his classical studies in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit as it is the images of his Southern boyhood. A significant portion of Burris’s critical work has been devoted to the study of Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He has served in various posts at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) since 1986, including as director of the Fulbright College Honors Program. He also co-founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas.  Sidney Burris was born on March 9, 1953, in Danville, Virginia. His father, John Colton Burris, was a salesman and a World War II U.S. Air Force veteran. His mother, Helen …

Carlisle, Irene Jones

Originally from Texas, Irene Carlisle lived much of her life in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she became a widely respected teacher, poet, and folklorist. Carlisle taught Latin and English at Springdale High School; published poetry in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and journals; published a well-received book of poetry; and collected folksongs and folklore in northwestern Arkansas. Irene Jones was born to Stephen and Tela Jones on May 24, 1908. She married Jack Carlisle in 1929, and the couple moved to Fayetteville. She earned a BA from Texas Christian University in 1929. During World War II, her husband served in the U.S. Navy, and she worked as a welder in a California shipyard; she composed a popular poem, “Welder,” about …

Coffin, Frank Barbour

Frank Barbour Coffin was an African-American pharmacist who owned and operated one of the earliest drug stores serving the black community of Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was also one of the country’s unnoted African-American poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century, barely remembered today for his two volumes of poetry and other works printed in various publications. F. B. Coffin was born on January 12, 1870, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the son of Samuel and Josephine Barton Coffin. Holly Springs was a small town in northern Mississippi, about forty miles from Memphis, Tennessee. His mother died before he was twelve years old, leaving Coffin and at least four other siblings to be raised by their father, a farmer. Little …

Coulter, Hope Norman

Little Rock (Pulaski County) author Hope Coulter is a novelist, short-story writer, poet, children’s book author, and professor. Coulter has received several of Arkansas’s top literary prizes, including the Porter Prize for fiction and the Laman Library Writers Fellowship. Poems and stories by Coulter have also received awards or recognition in contests from such national literary journals as the North American Review, Terrain.org, the Southwest Review, and Louisiana Life. Hope Elizabeth Norman was born on January 25, 1961, in New Orleans, Louisiana, but spent her early years in Little Rock. Her father, Tom David Norman, was then a pathologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Her mother, Hope Johns Norman, as a member of the Women’s Emergency …

Dresbach, Beverley Githens

Beverley Githens Dresbach was a poet and journalist who lived in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) with her husband, poet Glenn Ward Dresbach. She was active in the cultural life of Eureka Springs and in the activities of the Arkansas community of poets and writers in her time. Beverley Githens was born in Wilmette, Illinois, on July 4, 1903, to John Nichols Githens and Elizabeth Beverley Barr Githens. She was educated in Chicago, Illinois, at the Bayeson School in 1919, the University of Chicago in 1927–28, and the Sherwood Music School in 1929–30. Details about her life in Illinois are sketchy. She worked at Carson’s, a Chicago department store—at first selling women’s dresses and then as an elevator operator in the …

Dresbach, Glenn Ward

Glenn Ward Dresbach was an internationally known poet with ten books to his credit when he moved to Eureka Springs (Carroll County) in 1941. After his arrival in the Ozarks, Dresbach continued to write and publish poetry, including numerous poems about the Ozarks. Glenn Ward Dresbach was born near Lanark, Illinois, on September 9, 1889, to William Henry Dresbach and Belle Weidman Dresbach. His parents were farmers, and he was an only child. Dresbach graduated from Lanark High School and attended a special three-year program at the University of Wisconsin from 1908 to 1911, where he served as editor of Wisconsin Magazine and won a national intercollegiate award for poetry. Soon after graduating from college, Dresbach began a long career …

Dumas, Henry

Henry Dumas is a critically acclaimed author of poetry and fiction who captured, in some of his finest work, many of his childhood experiences as an African-American living in southern Arkansas. Henry Dumas was born on July 20, 1934, in Sweet Home (Pulaski County), sometimes called Sweetwater, and he continued to live there until he moved with his family to Harlem when he was ten years old. Almost no information about Dumas’s childhood is available, yet his life in the deep South and the desolate conditions confronting black Southerners in that era are insightfully depicted in several of his writings, including his widely admired short story, “Goodbye, Sweetwater.” Dumas graduated from Harlem’s Commerce High School in 1953 and then attended …

Fletcher, John Gould

John Gould Fletcher, poet and essayist, is widely acknowledged as one of the state’s most notable literary figures. He enjoyed an international reputation for much of his long career, earned the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and participated in movements that shaped twentieth century-literature. John Gould Fletcher was born on January 3, 1886, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Adolphine Krause and John G. Fletcher. After the Civil War, Fletcher’s father formed a successful cotton brokerage firm with fellow veteran Peter Hotze, bringing him wealth and prominence. Fletcher’s mother had abandoned the prospect of a musical career to tend to her ailing mother and likely centered her artistic ambitions on her only son. Fletcher was reared and educated by tutors in …

Ford, Edsel

Although Edsel Ford did not arrive in the Arkansas Ozarks until the age of eleven, he lived most of his adult life in the region, consistently incorporated its culture into his writing, and became one of its most distinguished poets. At the time of his death, at the age of forty-one, he was a well-established regional poet who was beginning to earn national literary attention. Edsel Ford was born to James Tilden Ford and Nora Louisa Ford in Eva, Alabama, on December 30, 1928. His family farmed cotton, and he was one of four children. When Ford was two years old, he moved with his family to Roswell, New Mexico. In 1939, the family moved to Avoca (Benton County) to …

Halfway from Hoxie [Book]

Published in 1973, Halfway from Hoxie: New and Selected Poems was Miller Williams’s fifth collection of poetry. This volume contains seventeen new poems and fifty-three poems from three of his earlier collections: A Circle of Stone (1964), So Long at the Fair (1968), and The Only World There Is (1971). Although Halfway from Hoxie presented a limited amount of new material, it fulfilled its stated purpose of providing “a tentative summary of [Williams’s] creative development during the past decade and a half.” Halfway from Hoxie confirms Williams’s growing stature as a poet. By 1973, he had served as editor of the New Orleans Review and had received the Henry Bellamann Award (1957), the Breadloaf Writers Conference Fellowship (1961), and the …

Hempstead, Fay

Fay Hempstead was an attorney, a poet, and a Mason who spent much of his life in the service of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas Freemasons. In addition to his poetical works, he wrote the first school textbook for Arkansas history as well as other historical studies. Hempstead was born on November 24, 1847, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His parents were Samuel Hutchinson Hempstead, an attorney and postmaster of Little Rock, and Elizabeth Rebecca Beall Hempstead. Hempstead was educated privately and attended St. Johns’ College, a Masonic institution in Little Rock, from 1859 to 1861. From 1866 to 1868, he studied law at the University of Virginia, returning to Arkansas to practice law. From 1869 to 1872, he was …

Hinegardner, Verna Lee Linxwiler

Verna Lee Linxwiler Hinegardner was appointed the poet laureate of Arkansas in 1991 by Governor Bill Clinton and held the post until 2003. In addition to writing and publishing her own poetry, she was active in many literary societies and activities that promote a greater appreciation of poetry. Verna Lee Linxwiler was born on January 2, 1919, in Morrisonville, Illinois, to Fred and Retta (Hendricks) Linxwiler. Her father was a farmer. She graduated from Lichfield Community High School in 1936 and attended Lincoln Junior College in Lincoln, Illinois. She married Marshall Andrew Hinegardner on December 12, 1937. The couple had three daughters. After World War II, the Hinegardners lived in Meridian and Vicksburg, Mississippi, before moving to Hot Springs (Garland County) …

Hollander, Andrea

aka: Andrea Hollander Budy
Poet and teacher Andrea Hollander served as the writer-in-residence at Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County) from 1991 to 2013. The author of four full-length poetry collections and three chapbooks, Hollander has published more than 250 poems and essays in numerous literary journals, including Poetry, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Hudson Review, Doubletake, Shenandoah, FIELD, Nimrod, and Arts & Letters. In addition, she has written book reviews for Kirkus Reviews, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Andrea Hollander was born in Berlin, Germany, on April 28, 1947, to Milton Henry, a physician stationed in France and Germany during World War II, and Blanche Rosalind Simon Hollander. She was raised in Colorado, Texas, New York, and New Jersey. Hollander received her BS from …

Lake, Paul

Paul Lake is a poet, novelist, and professor residing in Russellville (Pope County). He received the Porter Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards offered in Arkansas, in recognition of his poetry. Paul Lake was born on August 1, 1951, in Baltimore, Maryland. His mother, Barbara Hull Lake, was a fifth-grade teacher, and his father, Paul Saunders Lake, was a manager and salesman for Metropolitan Life. He had three siblings: James, Stephen, and Melody. Lake lived in a row house on Giddings Avenue as a child in Baltimore. When he was in the second grade, Lake and his family moved to rural Harford County, where he attended elementary school and junior high school. After graduating from Edgewood High School, …

Madhubuti, Haki R.

aka: Donald Luther Lee
Haki R. Madhubuti is a renowned African-American writer, poet, and educator. The author of twenty-four books, he became a major contributor to the black literary tradition beginning in the mid-1960s. He has received the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, as well as an American Book Award, and his books have sold over three million copies. A proponent of independent black institutions, Madhubuti is the founder, publisher, and chairman of the board of Third World Press, the oldest continually operating independent black publisher in the United States. Haki Madhubuti was born Donald Luther Lee on February 23, 1942, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and raised in Detroit, Michigan; he has one sister. His father, …

Marinoni, Rosa Zagnoni

Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni was poet laureate of Arkansas from 1953 to 1970. A prolific poet herself, she worked to promote a greater appreciation of poetry, to establish an annual Poetry Day in Arkansas, and to encourage poets in her own time and place. Rosa Zagnoni was born in Bologna, Italy, on January 5, 1888, and came to the United States with her parents in 1898. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Antero Zagnoni, was a journalist and drama critic. Her mother, Maria Marzocchi, was a poet and artist, and her uncle, Federico Marzocchi, was also a poet. She married Antonio Marinoni in Brooklyn on July 30, 1908, and moved to Fayetteville (Washington County), where her husband was on …

McDougall, Jo Garot

Jo Garot McDougall is a poet of the Arkansas Delta. Her work is noted for its sparseness and evocation of small-town life. Her poems are subtle portraits of the lives of rural families, farmers, housewives, and the struggles and tragedies they face. She has won many prizes for her work, which has been published in books, literary journals, and anthologies. In 2018, she was named Poet Laureate of Arkansas. Jo Garot was born on December 15, 1935, and raised near DeWitt (Arkansas County). Her father, Leon Joseph Garot, was a rice farmer. Her mother, Ruth Maurine Merritt Garot, was a secondary education teacher. She has one sister, Nancy. Garot grew up on a rice farm and received a Bachelor of …

McGraw, Patricia Washington

Patricia Washington McGraw, a scholar, professor, and author, has made a significant impact throughout the country and the world as an educator and African-American cultural preservationist. Patricia Washington was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to William and Ruth Washington, natives of Danville (Yell County), on May 6, 1935. While she was growing up in a time of school segregation and Jim Crow laws, her parents instilled in her the value of education and the importance of embracing her African-American heritage. In 1953, she graduated from all-black Dunbar High School in Little Rock. McGraw graduated from San Francisco State College in California in 1957 and earned a master’s degree in American literature from the college in 1967. She was the …

Mock, Lucy Byrd

Lucy Byrd Mock, a native of Prairie Grove (Washington County), set numerous records as a golfer, established two national World War I–era women’s organizations, and was a noted author, journalist, poet, and publisher. Lucy Byrd Mock was born in Prairie Grove on February 23, 1876, the second of James Mock and Amanda Patton Mock’s six children. She was a student at the Methodist Academy in Prairie Grove until 1890, when she was admitted to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) as a fourteen-year-old sophomore. After completing the spring semester in 1893, she spent part of her summer break on a trip overseas to Great Britain, where she learned to play golf. Mock enjoyed the game so much …

Newth, Rebecca

aka: Rebecca Newth Harrison
Rebecca Newth Harrison is a writer working in Fayetteville (Washington County). Her literary corpus includes six books of poetry, a memoir, and a collection of children’s books. Newth is also the founder of Will Hall Books and an advocate for the arts in northwest Arkansas. Rebecca Newth was born on September 21, 1940, in Lansing, Michigan, to William Arthur Newth and Catherine Messenger Newth. She is the eldest of four children. Newth’s parents both worked at Michigan State University (MSU), her father as an accountant and her mother as a medical technician. Newth attended MSU, graduating with a BA in English literature in 1962. At MSU, Newth met and married John Harrison, who was pursuing a career in library science. …

One With Others

One With Others is C. D. Wright’s 2010 book of investigative, documentary poetry chronicling the life of her mentor, Margaret Kaelin McHugh, otherwise known as “V.” The “nom de guerre” of V. was given to McHugh by a “gaggle of unsolicited student acolytes,” among them Wright, who took McHugh into their student housing in Memphis, Tennessee, after she was exiled from her hometown in eastern Arkansas for her role in the 1969 March Against Fear from West Memphis (Crittenden County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taking as its subject the “stuck clock of history,” the book switches between 1969 Big Tree, the fictive name Wright gives V’s hometown, and 2004 Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood, as V. is dying. While …

Peter, Lily

Lily Peter, state poet laureate, was a distinguished author, successful farmer, teacher, musician, conservationist, and philanthropist. Her biographer, Annie Laura Jaggers, called her “an anachronistic symbol of the pioneering spirit of all Americans and particularly of Arkansas, a state that is a haven for contrasts and extremes.” Lily Peter was born on June 2, 1891, to William Oliver Peter and Florence Mobrey Peter in Big Cypress Bayou near Marvell (Phillips County). She was the first of ten children, of whom five did not survive childhood. Peter received much of her early education at home before going to public school. Her father, after experiencing varying degrees of success as a farmer, died in an accident in 1907, leaving Peter to take …

Poets Laureate of Arkansas

The position of Poet Laureate of Arkansas was established on October 10, 1923, by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the General Assembly. In Arkansas, as elsewhere, the title of poet laureate has sometimes been awarded on grounds not restricted to fame or literary eminence. The term “laureate” refers to the ancient custom of crowning a person with a wreath made from leaves of the laurel tree. In antiquity, military heroes, athletic champions, and winners in singing, music, and poetry contests typically received this honor. In modern times, monarchs, governing bodies, or other organizations have named poets laureate, often in recognition of a significant talent but sometimes for political or other reasons. John Dryden was the first poet laureate of …

Stanford, Frank

aka: Francis Gildart Stanford
Francis Gildart Stanford was one of the most recognized and prolific emerging poets of his generation until his suicide at the age of twenty-nine. Though all but two of his books remain out of print, his poems, which pitch startling and often surreal imagery against stark Southern landscapes, have sustained Stanford’s reputation and influence among poets who knew him during his lifetime and have ushered in a resurgence of admirers among a new generation of poets. Frank Stanford was born on August 1, 1948, on the Mississippi side of the Delta, was orphaned, and then was adopted in 1949 by Dorothy Gildart, who was single and the first female manager in the Firestone Corporation. In 1950, Dorothy Gildart adopted a …

Stuart, Mary Routh McEnery

aka: Ruth McEnery Stuart
Mary Routh McEnery Stuart, working under the name Ruth McEnery Stuart, wrote a body of fiction and poetry based on the experiences she had in Arkansas, modeling characters, dialect, and even a fictional town on her interactions within the state. She was, both financially and critically, one of the most successful fiction writers of her time, and in recent years has been studied by feminist and social literary critics. Routh McEnery was born on February 19, 1852, (according to the date provided on her marriage license; though she may have been born as early as 1849). Her parents were Mary Routh Stirling and James McEnery, who was at that time the mayor of Marksville, Louisiana, where McEnery was born. In …

Vining, Peggy Sue Caudle

Peggy Sue Caudle Vining was appointed Poet Laureate of Arkansas in 2003 by Governor Mike Huckabee. She was the sixth poet laureate since the creation of the position by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the Arkansas legislature in 1923. Peggy Sue Caudle, the oldest of three daughters, was born on March 4, 1929, in Greenfield, Tennessee, to Clayton R. Caudle, a salesman and later owner of a farm equipment company, and Winnie May Moore, a schoolteacher prior to their marriage. Caudle’s father was a deacon at the Greenfield Baptist Church, and she learned hymns and Bible verses at an early age. Caudle left home to attend college at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1946. She earned her elementary …

Williams, Miller

aka: Stanley Miller Williams
Stanley Miller Williams, known professionally as Miller Williams, was one of the foremost American poets of the post–World War II era. For thirty-three years, he was a professor of English, foreign languages, and comparative literature at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was a key figure in the university’s nationally known programs in creative writing and translation. He was the author, editor, or translator of over thirty volumes of poetry, literary criticism, and fiction. Miller Williams was born on April 8, 1930, in Hoxie (Lawrence County) to Ernest Burdette and Ann Jeanette Miller Williams. In his early years, he lived in five Arkansas towns, where his father served as a Methodist minister. After graduating from high …

Wright, C. D.

aka: Carolyn Wright
Carolyn Wright was a poet whose work won acclaim for its experimental variety and rich colloquial sound. As a publisher and an exhibit curator, she was a long-term advocate of poets and poetry. Wright was a National Book Award finalist for her 2010 volume One With Others: [a little book of her days], which won the National Book Critics Circle Award that year. C. D. Wright was born on January 6, 1949, in Mountain Home (Baxter County) to Alyce E. Collins, a court reporter, and Ernie E. Wright, a judge for the chancery and probate court. She has one brother, Warren. Wright grew up in Boone County, graduated from Harrison High School, and received her BA in French from Memphis …

Yarbrough, Anna Nash

Anna Idelle Nash Yarbrough was a prolific author and internationally recognized poet from El Dorado (Union County). She wrote for many publications, including the Arkansas Democrat, the Arkansas Gazette, and the Benton Courier, from the early 1930s until her death in 1993. She wrote one book of poetry, Flower of the Field (1962), and three books on the mechanics of poetry: Building with Blocks: How to Write Poetry with the Easy Block System (1965), Poetry Patterns (1968), and Syllabic Poetry Patterns (1978). She also co-authored a book of poetry, Laurel Branches (1969). Anna Idelle Nash was born on January 19, 1897, in El Dorado to Jessie Lee Cook Nash and Lelus Mecanlus Nash. Her paternal grandparents were also literary figures, …