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we are all meaning hungry

May 15, 2009

vivid companion cover Today’s Writer’s Almanac features a poem — “Ready” (from Vivid Companion) — by one of my West Virginia Wesleyan College professors Irene McKinney and the Poet Laureate of West Virginia. It describes a scene from a hospital stay. This is her poetry’s fifth appearance in The Writer’s Almanac (here’s a list of all five).

Last month, on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, McKinney read an essay on being poet laureate. (You can listen to it and read it here.) She challenges the logic that a poet laureate must be civic minded and write lofty poems for important commemorations. She discusses, a bit, the role of poetry in the world, but, as with her poems she brings the conversation around to its manifestation in her own life. She says,

“I almost think there’s an inborn, intuitive respect for the ongoing aspirations of poetry. People sense that it’s a place for truth-telling, the place where the soul can have its say. And where else can this happen?”


“We are all meaning-hungry. The human enterprise is ultimately a search for meaning. And to be in the presence of a unique, personal voice speaking directly to us, striving to create meaning, satisfies a deep and abiding hunger.”

That’s what I love about poetry: being “in the presence of a unique, personal voice,” a voice that has been given a forum to speak something which is true. You should read Vivid Companion, by the way. It’s wonderful.

One Comment
  1. Michelle permalink
    May 18, 2009 1:01 pm

    “We are all meaning-hungry.”

    That resonates with me.

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