Reminder: Mountain Word is on Facebook

July 23, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

A new, more flexible version of Mountain Word is now on Facebook. It’s easier than ever for everyone to contribute, read, listen, watch, comment, add links and generally interact with and enjoy Mountain Word.

Please stop by, and “Like” it. Thanks for all the “Likes” so far!

Morgantown Poets 2013 Fundraiser

July 21, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

Morgantown Poets 2013 Fundraiser with Kirk Judd, Amber Decker, and William F. DeVault featured July 27 at MAC.

The inner quarrel

June 28, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

The inner struggle with ourselves as bait for the muse….

“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”

—William Butler Yeats, “Anima Hominis,” Essays (1924)

Harshman’s new collection “All That Feeds Us”

June 19, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

A key collection by an outstanding poet — Marc Harshman‘s new book, “All That Feeds Us: The West Virginia Poems.”

A Sesquicentennial poem

June 19, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

W.Va. Poet Laureate Marc Harshman has written a Sesquicentennial poem & will read an abridged version of it Thursday, June 20, at the Capitol sometime after 1:50 p.m.

Don Share named editor of Poetry magazine

May 29, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

Don Share will be the next editor of Poetry Magazine. Currently senior editor of the magazine, he will begin his role as editor on July 1. He has taught at Harvard, and was curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard for several years. He has lectured at Boston University and Oxford University. He has published 10 books, most recently “Wishbone” at Black Sparrow.

The story at the Poetry Foundation about Share’s appointment notes that he will be the magazine’s 12th editor in its 101-year history, following the departure of his longtime colleague, outgoing editor Christian Wiman.

“Share’s knowledge and experience of poetry is unrivaled, in my estimation….I can think of no one more deeply informed, no one who honors and respects a broader range of aesthetic traditions and endeavors, no one who has given more to poetry and poetics.” — poet Alice Fulton

The poet as trickster

May 27, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

“Metaphor is the basic trick of language, and we are sometimes impatient with tricksters. But the door between reality and the imagination can’t do without a hinge.”
–J. Edward Chamberlin

The poem as photograph

May 20, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

Try writing a poem reacting to or acting as a photograph. Maybe it could be the photo above, which I took last winter, or it could be something else.

For a look at how a first-rate poet does something like this, here’s an excerpt from Irene McKinney‘s “The Ruined House of the Photographer”:

… in broken drawers,
in sooty cabinets, are grainy photographs
of the eccentric dead. A seven-year-old girl,
her blonde hair princked in a mishaped halo
is painted like a fever, high spots

of power pink on her smooth cheeks,
lips touched outside their outline,
the staring drills of impossible blue eyes.

Think about a poem as a photograph. Turning this notion over and over in the mind is of little help, unless you 1) read a poem that responds to or acts as a photograph, and/or 2) write a poem as a photo, and by this I mean pick out a photo or some static scene to animate with poetry. Pay particular attention to nouns and verbs. See what happens. A static scene can be brought to life this way. I think of the Adam Kirsch poems in the April Poetry magazine, three poems paired directly across from the photos they react to or are drawn from.

If you have any photo poems ready or if you try one or two, let me know. I’d be interested in seeing your work here on MountainWord.

Change unchanging

May 17, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~Anais Nin

Exhibit to honor late W.Va. poet laureate

April 30, 2013 by Vic Burkhammer

This AP story via Ben Adducchio of W.Va. Public Broadcasting will be of interest to MountainWord readers:

Louise McNeill

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center plans to honor the late state poet laureate Louise McNeill as part of this year’s celebration of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial.

An exhibit on McNeill’s life and works will open June 1 at the center on Fairmont State University’s campus.

“Not every state in America has a poet laureate, but West Virginia does. Those poet laureates have laurelled, have saluted, have told about the state to make people aware,” Judy Byers, the folklife center’s director, told West Virginia Public Broadcasting (

McNeill served as West Virginia poet laureate for 14 years and taught at the university when it was Fairmont State College. A literary map of the state created with the folklife center’s help, called “From a Place Called Solid,” is named after a line in McNeill’s memoir.

“That is what I think the writers of West Virginia, be they poets, novelists, be they historical non-fiction writers, I think that is one of the strong, thematic undercurrents that you will find in their writing,” Byers said.

“A place called solid, a place where the values are rich and sincere. A place where out of struggle, out of friction, out of suffering, has come a great state.”


Information from: WVPR-FM,