Irene McKinney

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Irene McKinney (April 20, 1939 – February 4, 2012)[1] was an American poet and editor, and served as the Poet Laureate of the state of West Virginia from her appointment by Governor Gaston Caperton in January 1994[2] until her death.


McKinney was born in Belington and earned her B.A. in English Literature at West Virginia Wesleyan College, in addition to an M.A. at West Virginia University and her PhD in English literature from the University of Utah.[1] She was a protégé of and editor for Louise McNeill; a relationship which helped form her commitment to regionalism in writing. She died of cancer at the family home in Barbour County at the age of 72.[2]

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Unthinkable: Collected Poems 1976-2004 (Red Hen Press, 2009)
  • Vivid Companion (Vandalia Press, 2004)
  • Six O'Clock Mine Report (U of Pittsburgh Press, 1989)
  • Quick Fire and Slow Fire (North Atlantic Books, 1988)
  • The Wasps at the Blue Hexagons (Small Plot Press, 1984)
  • The Girl With the Stone in Her Lap (North Atlantic Books, 1976)

As editor[edit]

Backcountry: Contemporary Writing in West Virginia (Editor, Vandalia Press, 2002)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "W.Va. poet laureate Irene McKinney dies at 72". Charleston, West Virginia: Charleston Gazette-Mail. February 4, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Irene McKinney, West Virginia's poet laureate, dies of cancer at age 72". Columbus, Indiana: The Republic. February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012.