Maggie Anderson Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Maggie Anderson has sought to bring attention to the poetry of the Appalachian region that shapes her verse. To that end, she has published a wide range of book reviews and has appeared at countless libraries, schools, and literary conferences. In addition, she edited Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems (1991), by Louise McNeill, designed to introduce longtime (and nearly forgotten) West Virginia poet McNeill to a new audience. A faculty member at Ohio’s Kent State University, Anderson coedited A Gathering of Poets (1992), which contained poems read at the 1990 ceremonies commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the killing of four young people during a campus rally protesting American involvement in the Vietnam War. Anderson also coedited companion anthologies of works about school, focused primarily on the difficult adolescent years: Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry About School (1999) and After the Bell: Contemporary American Prose About School (2007).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Maggie Anderson uses the materials of her West Virginia experiences and shapes them into probing, intensely personal lyrical revelations about her perceptions as a mother, a teacher, and, ultimately, a woman. A regional poet whose work has yet to find a national audience, Anderson is vigorously involved with the cultural environment of the Appalachia area. Across more than two decades, she has been awarded numerous fellowships from state committees in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She has accepted appointments as writer-in-residence at several universities, most notably the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oregon. In 2003, Anderson received the prestigious Ohioana Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, given annually to an Ohio poet whose work encourages a wide interest in poetry by attracting readers both in and out of academia, a fitting award for a poet who has championed poetry, in language unadorned with elaborate ornamentation, as the voice of the working class. In 2008, she won the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award for the poem “Black Overcoat.”


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Ballard, Sandra L., and Patricia L. Hudson, eds. Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. Anthology that includes four poems by Anderson. Helpful introduction to the major women in a genre dominated by men; the wide-ranging selection gives Anderson’s verse a helpful context.

Bryant, Jacqueline, ed. Gwendolyn Brooks and Working Writers. Chicago: Third World Press, 2007. Contains an essay by Anderson explaining why she views Brooks as her mentor.

High, Ellesa Clay. “Maggie Anderson: Two Languages.” In Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, edited by Felicia Mitchell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002. The most substantive critical look at Anderson. Uses Anderson’s urban and rural background to analyze the voice in her poem as both a part of and apart from the West Virginia environment.

Iron Mountain Review (Spring, 2005). This issue of the review, published annually by the English Department of Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia, is dedicated to Anderson. Each issue of the review features an Appalachian writer.

Williams, John Alexander. Appalachia: A History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Comprehensive history of the culture of the region that defines Anderson’s poetry. Includes an extensive review of the literature of the region.