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Exhibit to honor late W.Va. poet laureate

FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- 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."


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