Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems

Overview

Introduction by Maggie Anderson

Musically complex and intellectually sophisticated, Louise McNeill’s imagery and rhythms have their deepest sources in the West Virginia mountains where she was born in 1911 on a farm that has been in her family for nine generations.  These are rooted poems, passionately concerned with stewardship of the land and with the various destructions of land and people that often come masked as “progress.”

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Overview

Introduction by Maggie Anderson

Musically complex and intellectually sophisticated, Louise McNeill’s imagery and rhythms have their deepest sources in the West Virginia mountains where she was born in 1911 on a farm that has been in her family for nine generations.  These are rooted poems, passionately concerned with stewardship of the land and with the various destructions of land and people that often come masked as “progress.”

In colloquial, rural, and sometimes macabre imagery, Louise McNeill documents the effects of the change from a farm to an industrial economy on the West Virginia mountain people.  She writes of the earliest white settlements on the western side of the Alleghenies and of the people who remained there through the coming of the roads, the timber and coal industries, and the several wars of this century.

The reappearance of Louise McNeill’s long out-of-print poems will be cause for celebration for readers familiar with her work.  Those reading it for the first time will discover musical, serious, idiosyncratic, and startling poems that define the Appalachian experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
McNeill, poet laureate of West Virginia since 1979, published her first chapbook in 1931, and major collections followed in 1939, 1942, 1972, and 1979. Most of her work has long been out of print, and this book is a valiant but unsuccessful attempt at resurrection. The thematic (rather than chronological) arrangement highlights how few structural changes McNeill's writing has embodied over this 60-year period, as well as how limiting her scope is. Focusing on a people (the miners, the hill folk) and the landscape that imprisons them, the poems too often settle for cliched generalities. These rhymed, sing-song stanzas will be of interest mainly as folklore. Despite Anderson's urging for contemporary relevance, the poems feel dated. Writers such as Meridel LeSueur or Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel have weathered the years far better.-- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York
School Library Journal
YA-- A book that's a pleasure to read and one that would be most rewarding to teach. It is a fine combination of graceful diction, colloquial voice, universal themes, and warmth of shared human experience. Echoes of some of the best American story poems enrich the original, contemporary, familiar setting. The language is dense with imagery while being lyrical and readable. Many of the poems would be fine models for young writers; others could serve as thematic comparisons to plays, short stories, and novels, especially those of the modern South. Some are just satisfying to experience. Here, a real person creates real people whom we recognize as ourselves. That is what we expect, but seldom find so consistently in a collection of poetry.-- Margaret C. Hecklinger, R . E . Lee High School, Springfield, VA
From the Publisher
"A splendid poet with an unbelievably powerful lyrical line. From first to last, this book is a treasure. Kudos to Maggie Anderson for bringing the almost-lost poems of this passionate, gifted woman into light."
—Maxine Kumin

"Louise McNeill's poems arise from the country of the rock and the hard place. Many of them, like fine mountain fiddling and picking, raise the hair on the back of my neck."
—Henry Taylor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822936855
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1991
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise McNeill has published, in addition to her several books of poetry, short stories and essays.  She has been poet laureate of West Virginia since 1979, and in 1988 she was awarded the Appalachian Gold Medallion by the University of Charleston.

Maggie Anderson is the author of three previous collections of poetry, Years That Answer, Cold Comfort, and A Space Filled with Moving, editor of Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems, and co-editor of A Gathering of Poets, and Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School, Maggie Anderson has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches creative writing at Kent State University where she directs the Wick Poetry Program and edits the Wick Poetry Series through the Kent State University Press.

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