Guide to Resources for the Study of West Virginia Authors and Appalachian Literary Traditions

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library

map of the appalachians

Maggie Anderson

photo of Maggie Anderson taken from the web

Biographical Information

Poet Maggie Anderson was born in New York City, September 23, 1948. She spent her early years growing up in the city. Her parents, both teachers, took the young girl to libraries, museums, and theaters—exposing her to the rich culture the city could offer. They filled their home with books and art. When Maggie was thirteen, her family moved from New York to West Virginia. Anderson’s new home was far more isolated than her old one, both geographically and culturally. She continued to explore, to discover, and to learn, but now she studied the natural rather than the man-made—the world around her and the plants and animals that made it up.

She attended West Virginia Wesleyan College for 2 years (1966-68), before transferring to West Virginia University. She completed an A. B. in 1970, an M. A. in 1973, and a M. S. W. in 1977. She spent time as a teacher at the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center, teaching adult creative writing classes. She also spent 2 years working as a rehabilitation councilor for the blind. Anderson then spent a year as a research writer for the Research and Training at West Virginia University.

Since 1977, Maggie Anderson has concentrated on her writing. She spent 3 years (1977-80) as a poet-in-residence for the Marshall County (WV) schools as well as co-founding and editing the literary journal Trellis with Irene McKinney and Winston Fuller. She has also been a teacher and writer-in-residence at numerous other schools and institutions, including the University of Oregon, the University of Pittsburgh, and Hamilton College. She has published five poetry collections—Cold Comfort, The Great Horned Owl, A Space Filled with Moving, Years that Answer, and Windfall. In addition, she co-edited A Gathering of Poets with Alex Gidzen and edited and wrote the introduction to Louise McNeill’s Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems. Maggie Anderson lives and works in Glen Easton, West Virginia.

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Critical Responses

In a article on Maggie Anderson’s life and work, Megan Valentine described her as “a writer who expresses the essence of who we are as human beings” and who “implores the reader to acknowledge their world, their surroundings, and most of all their selves.” William Matthews, writing about Cold Comfort remarked that “She’s one of the ways our poetry has chosen to remind us who we are, and how much choice we had in that, and how little.” Anderson’s poetry has been praised for its vivid and personal descriptions of life in Appalachia, using the environment, the heritage, and the cultural landscape of the mountains to draw readers into her world as she sees and experiences it. Patricia Roth Schwartz, writing in Lambda Book Reports, commented on the Appalachian-ness of Anderson’s writing—“The cadence and rhythms of Anderson’s work are those of the natural world—not idyllic scenes of imagined bucolic pleasures, but the hardscrabble terrain of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, where lies her heritage as well as her ties now.”

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Works Published

Cold Comfort
The Great Horned Owl
A Space Filled With Moving
Years that Answer

Edited by Maggie Anderson

A Gathering of Poets (with Alex Gildzen)
Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems (Louise McNeill)

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Selected Bibliography

Becker, Robin. A Space Filled with Moving (book review). Belles Lettres: A Review of Books for Women, Summer 1993. 8(4), 20.

Chappell, Fred. A Gathering of Poets (book review). The Georgia Review, Summer 1994. 48(2), 361.

Frost, Carol. A Space Filled with Moving (book review). The Georgia Review, Fall 1993. 47(3), 61.

Guillorym Daniel L. A Gathering of Poets (book review). Library Journal, December 1992. 117(21), 144.

Juhasz, Suzanne. Years that Answer (book review). Library Journal, May 1, 1980. 105, 1086,

Scates, Maxine. Cold Comfort (book review). Prairie Schooner, Spring 1989. 63(1), 118.

Schwartz, Patricia Roth. Profound Pitt Poets. Lambda Book Report, September 2000. 9(2), 21.

Windfall (book review). Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000. 247(13), 72.


Author Website

none available

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West Virginia Wesleyan College

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