Marc Harshman, West Virginia’s poet laureate, was born October 1, 1950, in Randolph County, Indiana. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bethany College and separate master’s degrees from Yale Divinity School and the University of Pittsburgh. Harshman began to write as a high school student and published his first poem while a student at Yale.
He is a storyteller and children’s author, as well as poet. His first book of poetry, Turning Out the Stones, was published in 1983. In 1989, Harshman’s first children’s book, A Little Excitement, was published. He has since published several other children’s books, including The Storm (1995), which was named a Smithsonian National Book for Children, and Only One Neighborhood (2007). Another of his books, Red Are the Apples (2001), was co-written with his wife, Cheryl Ryan Harshman, and he wrote Rocks in My Pocket (1991) with the late Doddridge County storyteller, Bonnie Collins. Marc Harshman, who lives in Wheeling, has also published two other collections of poetry. He says that living in West Virginia is important to his work: “I am the kind of writer who needs to know where the woods are and that there are good friends and neighbors nearby.”
Harshman taught for many years, first at the college level and then in grade schools. For a time he taught fifth and sixth grade at Sand Hill School in Marshall County, one of the last three-room schools in the state. He continues to visit schools and present workshops about writing.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin named Marc Harshman the state poet laureate on May 18, 2012, following the death of Irene McKinney, who had served in the post since 1994. Harshman is the ninth person to serve as poet laureate since the position was established by the legislature in 1927.
Marc Harshman performed his first major commission as poet laureate during West Virginia’s 150th birthday celebration on June 20, 2013. He read his commemorative poem, “A Song for West Virginia,” during anniversary events in his hometown of Wheeling and at the State Capitol in Charleston. The Sesquicentennial poem was commissioned by the Wheeling National Heritage Area.
This Article was written by Becky Calwell
Last Revised on July 11, 2014
Cite This Article
Calwell, Becky "Marc Harshman." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 11 July 2014. Web. 26 July 2014.