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Karl Dewey Myers


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Poet Laureate Karl Dewey Myers (February 12, 1899-December 4, 1951) was born in Tucker County with defects so severe that he was not expected to survive the day of his birth. Although he lived, he never weighed more than 60 pounds, never walked, and never attended school. He educated himself through persistent self-study.

Myers first attempted poetry when he was 16. Operating an Oliver typewriter that he was unable to lift and inspired chiefly by Elizabethan poets and Edgar Allan Poe, he began to write. Although his initial efforts were met with rejection, he eventually found publication in small magazines and local newspapers. The magazines included The West Virginia Review, which Myers once served as assistant editor.

Governor Howard Mason Gore appointed Myers as the state’s first poet laureate on June 9, 1927. He held this title until March 10, 1937, when Beckley sportswriter Roy Lee Harmon replaced him. Myers’s poems were compiled in two collections, The Quick Years (1926) and Cross and Crown (1951).

Myers died after spending his final years in and out of nursing homes. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Elkins. Admirers later erected a monument at the site believed to be his grave.

Written by James Slack

Sources

  1. Fansler, Homer Floyd. History of Tucker County. Parsons: McClain, 1962.

  2. Conley, Phil M. Karl Myers, Poet, Philosopher. West Virginia Review, (Apr. 1925).

  3. Karl Dewey Myers Dies December 4. Parsons Advocate, 12/6/1951.