Laura Hope-Gill of Asheville, North Carolina, who recently published a collection of her work under the title, The Soul Tree, was recently honored as the foundation's first poet laureate. In the book her prose is matched to photographs of the Blue Ridge Parkway taken by John Fletcher, also of Ashville.
Laura is also the executive director of the Asheville Wordfest, a poetry project that includes an annual festival as well as public access television, public radio, and internet presentation of poetry.
"Having a Poet Laureate", said Dr. Houck Medford, executive director of the foundation, "adds a whole other dimension to the Parkway experience. The parkway is so visual but its rhythms can easily be conveyed in poetic language. We look forward to hearing and 'seeing' this new imagery as it becomes part of our Parkway visitors' journeys."
Ms. Hope-Gill said it's easy to be inspired by the vistas along the parkway.
"The land is the language of poetry - we see it Neruda, Lorca, the British Romantics. It tells us things and the poet's role is to interpret it as well as she can," she said. "I like that the parkway gets a laureate, a poet who can work alongside biologists and fundraisers to nurture the love we all have for these mountains. I'm honored. I'm humbled, but most of all I'm just really, really happy that my words can be of use."