THERE'S POETRY IN THEM THAR HILLS
A look at the found poetry
of Pendleton County, West Virginia
W. Va. - The Pendleton Times is a weekly newspaper in Pendelton
County, West Virginia. The paper's been in continuous operation since
1913 and is read by about 5,200 people in the towns of Franklin, Sugar
Grove, Cherry Grove, Kline, Judy Gap, and Circleville, among others.
Its pages are devoted to local politics, farming, the school board and
what little crime seems to happen here.
"We're located in a very rural area of West Virginia," said
William McCoy, Esq., 80, publisher of the paper his father founded .
"The population is only about 9,000 in the entire county, so most
of the families in the county read the paper," he said. "The
typical reader is not highly educated, but most have at least a high
school education. Mostly they have work that involves agriculture. They
are hard workers."
And, to some extent, they are poets.
The residents of Pendleton County can, for about 30 dollars American,
publish poetic birthday greetings, in memoria, or get-well wishes in
the paper. It's a tradition that goes back at least 30 years.
"These are homespun, Grandma-Moses-style rhymes; some of them are
really quite charming," said Ed Tallman, the paper's editor-in-chief,
and a "Roundtowner," a local term indicating that he is from
The poems are brief, personal, frequently confusing, but always entertaining.
They speak to small town life and the personalities of the people that
comprise this community. Individually, the poems are sometimes strange
and maybe a little obtuse; collectively, they present a tapestry of
personalities, preferences and ideals in rural West Virginia.
Because they are not written as poems per se, but rather as direct
messages with specific purpose, they tend not to rely on metaphor, symbolism,
analogy, hyperbole, personification, or any of the other literary devices
of poetry. Nevertheless, the accidental poets of Pendelton County have
amassed an impressive, revealing and whimsical body of work.
What follows is a selection of poetry that has appeared on the pages
of the Pendelton Times over the past 18 months. The paper can
be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[To see original clippings from which some of these poems are culled,
click on a link under those poems, and a new window will appear.]
GET WELL CARD SHOWER
the summer she drives the tar
In the winter she plows snow,
But since her surgery
she's in her easy chair,
Waiting for the doctor to say,
Let's hit the road.
[In His Toyota Celica he does go!]
His Toyota Celica he does go!
Out to Alphena we all know
To a gal named Ashley that he dates.
She thinks he is really great.
Baseball and football were his games
Ace was always his nickn name
With hazel eyes and hair of brown
Around Seneca Rocks he can be found!
On December 13th he turns 21
So if you see him, you might say
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ACE!
Have a wonderful day.
[When this little fellow was 5]
little fellow was 5,
The bleachers he did climb.
With little red cheeks,
And a big white Ford,
He thinks he's doing fine!
Farming and bear hunting
Are the loves of his life,
But what he really needs is a
[This little girl]
from North Fork Flat
Drives a green car
with Cavalier on the back
You can see her on the road
Just cruisin' by
She's a senior this year
at Pendelton County High
She turned eighteen
No more boys for her
Now ain't that mean!
[His coon skin cap you won't see]
coon skin cap you won't see
A cowboy hat is what it'll be
Over the mountain to Jake Hill
he did go
A wife and two pretty girls you must
To Seneca Rocks his Ford goes each day
To ride horses and feed hay
Although October 12 is now past
This little guy turned FORTY at last
Practical jokes is his game
But BUB will always be his name.
["Punkin" isn't he so sweet]
isn't he so sweet
Lives on the right up Roaring Creek
He washes that blue Peterbuilt twice every day
He is Mr. Clean, wouldn't you say
You may have to take your shoes of to get in his ride
A bottle of Armor All is always inside
Son of Elmer and Gabby he is true
A very happy 25th birthday to you!
[link to clipping]
[LITTLE TIMMY "WEE" IS GOING TO BE]
TIMMY "WEE" IS GOING TO BE
He wouldn't dare let his Harley get dirty
Those that know Timmy "WEE" knows he's a
Four years ago Roger and Donna got rid of him.
He lucked out and got Jennifer for his wife.
They moved to Bridgewater to start a new life.
"Daddy" bought a Harley because his missed
his only son.
So to bike rallies they shall go, just to have
a little fun.
[This little boy]
Cute as can be,
Is not as innocent
As you might think
,He drives fast cars,
Likes hard rock music,
Going out on the town,
And watching movies
So if you know
Who this could be
On April 15th
Twenty-two he will be!
[Gracious Sakes alive]
Looks who's turning 66 and 65 !
On March 15 and 16.
Happy Birthday Cletus and Elaine!
[Golden hair turning gray]
Hair turning gray.
Navy Blue eyes have gone
Gave up Paradise, for perdition,
Live a life of sedition.
Lost the confidence in her true
Needs only search her heart and
listen from above.
Thru trials and tribulation a
lesson from beginning to end,
there must be a confession.
Born June 19, 1956
Dearly Loved and Sadly Missed.
Come Home P.
I Love You,
[The time we spent together is a time to be treasured]
we spent together is a time to be treasured
Because as a child I didn't know your life was measured.
A measurement of which was senseless cruel and unfair
And as your life came to an end--- I was there.
As a young man, I saw your life taken away,
And those horrific memories haunt me each and every day.
How could a man so precious, sweet, strong and kind
Have his life stole away and his family left behind
That question, the answer I will never understand
Because even as a man I still need my Dad's hand
I will never grow too old to need my Dad,
Cause he was the best friend a son could have
I wish I could have one more opportunity to hear you say
"Son you'll understand why I'm telling you this one day."
Well Dad, one day has come and I need to tell you
That everything you told me has come true
Every thought that I have and everything I do,
Is a perfect example of how much I respect you.
And Dad to me you will always be
Cause you will live forever in my memory.
[We loved you for so many years]
you for so many years
But were not sad when God took you home
Because we all knew you had gone to a much better place
And we will see you again some day
under better circumstances.
[Each day I walk a little further along the path that
I walk a little further along the path that takes
me away fromthe moment you died ending our marriage.
Each step takes me a little further away from missing you,
your touch, your kiss. However, I didn't know that the path
circles around until I am back to where I started.
[link to clipping]
Henry Singer has
been providing high-quality medical trade journalism for many years now,
has just bought a complete drum set, and occasionally has used a fire
arm. Sometimes, he sends inappropriate and pornographic e-mails, but he's
cut down on that since fathering a child late last year.