below are Kentucky's Poet Laureates and some of their
poetical works available for check out from the Kentucky
Department for Libraries & Archives. To reserve
books from this list, librarians may contact Interlibrary
Loan at (502) 564-8300, ext. 327. Members of the general
public may request materials by contacting their public
library, or check materials out on-site with a KDLA
read more about Kentucky's poet laureates, visit the
Files, located in the State Library. To
explore other works by the Poet Laureates, use Author
Browse option in the KDLA
James Thomas Cotton Noe
(b. 1864 - d. 1953)
Born in Washington County, Kentucky, Noe
was a professor emeritus and former head of
the education department at the University of
Kentucky. Although Noe was mostly known as a
literary researcher, his poetry became popular
while teaching English at the university. By
a joint resolution of the General Assembly,
Noe became Kentucky's poet laureate in 1926.
"Through the poetry of Cotton Noe,"
in a review by the Lexington Herald Leader,
"there runs a profound and refreshing philosophy
of human kindness, recognition of the romantic
in the commonplace, generous interpretation
of the lives of lowly people, devotion to the
simple and fundamental virtues and belief in
the grandeur and worth of the human spirit."
Called Fleeting Doe: A Romance of Pioneer Kentucky.
Lexington: Kentucky Kernel Press, 1938. Call
number: K811.5 Noe
Sams Again: A Selection of Poems. Lexington:
Kentucky Kernel Press, 1947. Call number: K811.5
Edward G. Hill (b.
1883 - d. )
Born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Hill
came to Kentucky with his parents in 1899. Educated
at the University of Louisville, Hill was a
noted lawyer, orator and political campaigner
throughout the Commonwealth. Known mostly for
his poetic contributions to magazines and general
press, Hill also published on volume of poems,
The House of Aegeus and Other Verse.
Hill was designated by a joint resolution by
the state legislature as poet laureate in 1928.
Mrs. Eugene Phillips (Louise Scott Phillips)
Edwin Carlisle Litsey
(b. 1874 - d. 1970 )
in Marion County, Kentucky, Litsey was mostly
known in the area as the assistant cashier of
the Marion National Bank in Lebanon, Kentucky.
During World War I, he took an active part as
a banker in the handling of the Liberty loans.
It was during this time that Litsey's literary
career began to flourish as a short story writer
and poet. Litsey's works appeared in local magazines
and won several local literary awards. Edgar
Lee Masters once said of Litsey, "[I am]
agreeably surprised at the excellence of these
poems." Litsey's poems, which were collected
into the volume, The Filled Cup, were
published to high critical acclaim in 1935.
Filled Cup: A Book of Poems for Sarah.
Louisville: Standard Printing Company, 1935.
Call number: K811.5 Lits
Verses and Poems. Louisville: John P.
Morton & Co., 1915. Call number: K811.5
Jesse Hilton Stuart
(b. 1907 - d. 1984)
"First, last, always, I am a schoolteacher.
I love the firing line of the classroom."
Born in a three-room log cabin not far from
Greenup, Kentucky, Stuart published more than
40 books, 400 short stories and thousands of
articles and poems about Kentucky while he taught
writing at various Kentucky schools. His status
as one of Kentucky's leading authors began in
1934 with his publication of Man with a Bull-Tongue
Plow, a collection of poems about his boyhood
in the hills. In 1954, Stuart was designated
one of "the" poet laureates of Kentucky.
In 1975 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize
in poetry with one of his last works, "The
World of Jesse Stuart." Harriette Simpson
Arnow, a Kentucky-born writer, once said of
Stuart's work, "He saw the people in the
hills as human beings, not queer things very
different from himself, so that his characters
almost always seemed real...."
Is My Land: Poems. New York: Dutton,
1952. Call number: K811.5 Stua
Only Place We Live. (with August Derleth
and Robert E. Gard) Madison, WI: Wisconsin House,
c1976. Call number: 811.5208
World of Jesse Stuart: Selected Poems.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975. Call number: K811.52
Lowell Allen Williams
(b. 1907 - d.1995)
Born in Macon County, Missouri, Williams
became a Kentuckian by unusual circumstances.
While a lifeguard at Edgewater Beach of Reelfoot
Lake, on the Tennessee side, Williams saved
the owner of the lake, P.C. Ford. Ford developed
an interest in Williams, and found him work
in Carlisle County, Kentucky as a whiskey salesman.
Before becoming designated Poet Laureate by
the state legislature in 1956, Williams was
also employed as an atomic engineer, oil rigger,
locomotive fireman, guitarist, appliance saleman,
tree surgeon, and public speaker. Williams wrote
thousands of poems, as well as radio skits and
songs, about his life experiences; most of these
were published in local Kentucky newspapers.
In a 1956 article, Louisville Courier Journal
writer Allan M Trout said of Williams' appointment
as Poet Laureate, "he [Williams] feels
it is now his mandate to write a little harder,
to work for civic betterment a little harder,
to try a little harder by personal example to
instill in others an appreciation for wholesome
the Wide, Green Valley: Poems of America.
Dallas: Triangle Publishing, 1961, c1960. Call
number: K811.5 Will
Lillie D. Chaffin
(b. 1925 - d. 1993)
native of Pike County, Kentucky, Chaffin was
a schoolteacher and prize-winning writer and
poet. She was designated one of KET's "Distinguished
Kentuckians" in 1972. Chaffin's poetry
was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She also
received the International Poetry and Child
Study Association Awards. In 1974, she was designated
by the state legislature as an Associate Poet
Laureate of Kentucky.
Day, 13th Moon. Pikeville: Pikeville
College Press, 1974. Call number: 811.54 Chaf
and Points. Pikeville: Pikeville College
Press, c1966. Call number: K811.54 Chaf
Senator Tom Mobley (b.
1916 - d. 1996)
Mobley, a native of Elizabethtown and graduate
of the Bowling Green Business University, is
most noted for his political activism in the
Louisville area. Mobley, a Democrat who was
chairman of the Senate's highway and traffic-safety
committee, was elected to two four-year terms
in 1972 and 1976. During his term of office,
Mobley obtained the financing for the Gene Snyder
Freeway, a major thoroughfare crossing central
and southern Jefferson County. Mobley also worked
to obtain more local funding for school programs,
especially literary programs. His poetic works
include the Senate's "Poems for Posterity."
Agnes O'Rear (b. 1896 - d.
Southern mother of three, O'Rear started writing
poetry in her early 20's to entertain her children
about the simple everyday details of life in
a Woodford County household. Influenced by the
work of Emily Dickinson, O'Rear's works are
based on the rhymes, rhythms and spontaneity
of everyday speech. Some of O'Rear's poetry
receiving high critical acclaim can be traced
back to words uttered during bridge games, conversations
with her family, or the rhythm of an everyday
greeting. During her lifetime, O'Rear sold only
one of her poems to a publication. In 1978 by
the state legislature, O'Rear was designated
an Associate Kentucky Poet Laureate.
Where I Sit: A Book of Poems. c1975.
Call number: K811.54 O'Re
Poem to "Kentucky."
(Composed for Kentucky's Sesquicentennial).
1942. Call number: K811.54 O'Re
Love: A Book of Poems. 1977?. Call number:
Clarence Henry "Soc" Clay
of South Shore, Kentucky is known as not only
a writer but as a photographer of Kentucky outdoor
subjects. His works have appeared in more than
100 titles, including newspapers, periodicals,
books and magazines, such as Outdoor Life,
Sports Afield, Bassmaster, Southern
Outdoors, Fishing World, Fishing
Facts, In-Fisherman and Kentucky
Afield. Clay's works garnered more than
100 national, regional, state and local awards.
Clay insisted he does not write poetry but "perhaps
writes poetically." He was named Kentucky
Poet Laureate by the Kentucky General Assembly
(b. 1939 - d.)
native of White Oak in Greenup County, Pennington
is known for his poetic images of Eastern Kentucky
and Appalachia. Pennington's interest in writing
began in his teens, while he was attending McKell
High School when Jesse Stuart was principal.
Pennington's work is often compared to the easy
lyrical style of Stuart. Like Stuart, Pennington
is a also renowned storyteller, named Chairman
of the Board of a national order of storytellers.
In 1977, his book of poetry, I Knew a Woman,
was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. A writing
instructor at Jefferson Community College, Pennington
has had more than 1,300 poems published. During
the early 1980's, his students lobbied the legislature
to have Pennington named Poet Laureate; he was
so designated in 1984.
Louisville: Green River Writers/Grex Press,
c1993. Call number: K811.54
Born in Wolf County, Kentucky, Salyers is a
newspaper columnist and schoolteacher of homebound
children. Salyers literary work includes 14
volumes of poetry. He described his work as
having "appeal to people who don't read
much." Once President of the Kentucky Poetry
Society, Salyers designation as Poet Laureate
met with much controversy in the literary community.
His appointment would fill the position of Eastern
Kentucky's Poet Laureate, held by Jesse Stuart,
who died earlier that year. Contenders for the
honor at the time included James Still, Wendell
Berry, and Robert Penn Warren.
Six years after Salyers was designated Poet
Laureate, the process of selecting nominees
for the honor was changed; the Kentucky Arts
Council, rather than the General Assembly, would
handle nominations, based on poet guidelines
established by the National Endowment for the
Arts. The winner would be selected by the governor.
Instead of lifelong status, the term was also
limited to two years.
of the Hills. New York: Vantage Press,
1971. Call number: K811.54 Saly
(b. 1925 - d.)
Faughn, a teacher in the Caldwell County school
system for 45 years, has directed science fairs,
literary fairs, and world culture days, and
was instrumental in organizing the Western Kentucky
Academic Association. He recently established
a $15,000 trust fund to award scholarships to
graduating seniors who plan to become teachers.
literary career started when he began using
his original poetry as a teaching aid. With
seven volumes already published, his eighth
focuses exclusively on teaching. "I believe
he instructed me more in his biology class about
public speaking, proper English, discipline,
being clear and exact in actions and thoughts,
and creative freedom than just simply teaching
me about cell microanatomy and function."
Aaron Carner, former student.
Jim Wayne Miller
(b. 1936 - d. 1996)
Born in Leicester, North Carolina, Miller was
one of six children in a community rich with
literary influences, with residents such as
Carl Sandburg and Thomas Wolfe. After receiving
a doctorate in German and English literature
from Vanderbilt University, Miller began teaching
German studies at Western Kentucky University.
While teaching, Miller's first of eight volumes
of poetry, Copperhead Cane, was published.
His first work of fiction, Newfound,
received several awards, including being named
"Book of the Year" by the American
Library Association. He was also one of Kentucky's
leading Appalachian scholars, being a consultant
for several schools, as well as a public speaker
on Appalachian subjects and folklore. His two
volumes, Appalachia Inside Out, (co-edited
with R. Higgs and A. Manning) are considered
to be the most comprehensive anthology ever
assembled about Appalachia. Miller was named
Kentucky Poet Laureate in 1986.
Brier Poems. Frankfort: Gnomon Press,
1997. Call number: K811.54
Cane: Poems. Nashville: Robert Moore
Allen, c1964. Call number: K811.54 Mill
with a Dead Man. Athens, GA: University
of Georgia Press, 1974. Call number: K811.54
More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.
Frankfort: Whippoorwill Press, 1971. Call number:
Mountains Have Come Closer. Boone, NC:
Appalachian Consortium Press, 1980. Call number:
of Words. Big Timber, MT: Seven Buffaloes
Press, 198-?. Call number: K811.54
Henry E. Pilkenton
(b. 1895 - d. 1992)
James H. Patton, Jr.
James Still (b.
1906 - d. 2001)
One of ten children, Still was born in Chambers
County, Alabama. At the age of eight, he wrote
his first short story, "The Golden Nugget."
By high school, he had completed his first novel.
His residence in Kentucky began when he accepted
a librarian position at the Hindman Settlement
School in Knott County during the Great Depression.
While a librarian, Still wrote poems and stories
about the people, events and images of Eastern
Kentucky, and submitted these works to national
magazines. In 1937, his first book, a collection
of poems, Hounds on the Mountain, was
published. Shortly afterward, Still resigned
his position and became a contract writer for
Viking Press. Still, often misperceived as a
"hermit writer," has made no attempt
at promoting himself or his writings, declining
awards not on the basis of being anti-social,
but because "[I] lacked bus fare and suitable
clothing for the occasions." It was not
until 1976 with his collection of short stories,
Pattern of Man, that Still began to receive
wide critical accaim. Many of Still's works,
comprising of poems, short stories and children's
books, are now class reading requirements in
Appalachian and Southern literature courses.
In 1995, Still was the first Kentucky Poet Laureate
appoint by a Kentucky Governor, Gov. Brereton
the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected
Poems. Lexington: University Press of
Kentucky, c2001. Call number: K811.52
on the Mountain. Lexington: Anvil Press,
1965, c1937. Call number: K811.5 Stil
Wolfpen Poems. (with an introduction
by Jim Wayne Miller) Berea: Berea College Press,
1986. Call number: K811.52
Joy Bale Boone
(b. 1912 - d. )
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Boone moved to Elizabethtown,
Kentucky after her marriage. Boone began her literary
career as a reviewer for the Louisville Courier
Journal in 1945. One of her chief literary interests
was poetry; Boone was "appalled at how little
contemporary poetry there was to read" in
Kentucky, and began to edit two anthologies of
contemporary Kentucky poets (1964, 1967). She
also founded the literary magazine, Approaches
(which is now called the Kentucky Poetry Review)
in 1964. Her own poetic works number approximately
800, spanning 60 years. Boone's poem, "The
Storm's Eye: A Narrative in Verse Celebrating
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Man of Freedom 1810-1903"
is her best known work. Boone was appointed Kentucky
Poet Laureate in 1997 by Governor Paul Patton.
Less Than Love. Louisville: Kentucky
Poetry Press, 1973?. Call number: 811.54 Boon
Storm's Eye: A Narrative in Verse Celebrating
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Man of Freedom, 1810-1903.
Louisville: Kentucky Poetry Press, 1974. Catalog
Number K811.54 Boon
native of Louisville, Taylor's interest in literature
began in high school when a friend recommended
he read works by contemporary poets Dylan Thomas
and E. E. Cummings. Taylor's literary career,
though, did not flourish until he attended the
University of Kentucky and began writing for
the campus publication, Stylus. Says
Taylor of Kentucky, "The history and landscape
of Kentucky make it an especially fertile place
for writers... Any place you go in the Bluegrass,
you can bore down to sedimentary rock.. It gives
you a sense of your smallness in the face of
the geological time under us." Taylor's
published works include three volumes of poetry,
one novel, and several non-fiction works about
the Bluegrass region. Currently a professor
at Frankfort's Kentucky State University, Taylor
is also known for his support of arts in the
public schools. As one of Kentucky's Poets-in-the-Schools,
and as a panelist for the National Endowment
for the Arts, he has advocated for additional
funding and expansion of arts programs throughout
Monterey: Larkspur Press, 1975. Call number:
Bones. Frankfort: Gnomon Press, c1979.
Call number: 811.54
Eye. Monterey: Larkspur Press, 2001.
James Baker Hall
a Lexington native, is known not only as an
author, but also as a prize-winning photographer
and longtime University of Kentucky professor
of English. An advocate of artists in the schools,
Hall is an avid advocate for Kentucky literary
programs. He is a supporter of Kentucky writers,
on both regional and national levels. Hall's
works include five volumes of poetry, two novels
and text for two photography books; he also
has four collections of photography.
It on Up to the Brag. Monterey: Larkspur
Press, 1975. Call number: K811 Hall
Joe Survant (b.
(M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware)
has been a professor of English at Western Kentucky
University since 1970, and director of the Writing
Program there since 1994. In addition to his
teaching career, his literary works have been
critically acclaimed. His book-length, narrative
poem, Anne and Alpheus, 1842-1882,
was selected for the 1995 Arkansas Poetry Prize
and his chapbook, We Will All Be Changed,
won the State Street Press Poetry Prize. Survant's
poetry has been published in such magaines as
The American Voice, Chelsea Poet
and Critic, Stand Magazine, and
The Sow Ear's Poetry Review.
& Alpheus, 1842-1882. Fayetteville,
Ark. : The University of Arkansas Press, 1996.
Call Number: K 811.54 Surv
of Snow in the Tropics. Singapore :
Landmark Books, c2001. Call Number: K 811.54
Rise. Gainesville : University Press
of Florida, c2002. Call Number: K 811.54 Surv