About Kathryn Stripling ByerKathryn Stripling Byer (November 25, 1944 – June 5, 2017) was an American poet raised on a farm in Southwest Georgia, where the material for much of her first poetry originated. She was appointed to be the fifth North Carolina Poet Laureate from 2005 to 2009 following Fred Chappell whose term ended in 2002. She was the first woman to hold the position.She graduated from Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia, with a degree in English literature, and afterward, received her MFA degree from UNC-Greensboro, where she studied with Fred Chappell and Robert Watson, as well as forming enduring friendships with James Applewhite and Gibbons Ruark. After graduation she worked at Western Carolina University, becoming Poet-in-Residence in 1990. Her first book of poetry, The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest, was published in the AWP Award Series in 1986, followed by the Lamont (now Laughlin) prize-winning Wildwood Flower, from LSU Press. Her subsequent collections have been published in the LSU Press Poetry Series, receiving various awards, including the Hanes Poetry Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Poetry Award, and the Roanoke-Chowan Award. She served for five years as North Carolina's first woman poet laureate.
Her poetry, prose, and fiction have appeared widely, including Hudson Review, Poetry, The Atlantic, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Arts Journal, Carolina Quarterly, Hudson Review, Iowa Review, Nimrod, and Southern Review, as well as numerous anthologies.
Kathryn Stripling Byer died at the age of 72 in Cullowhee on June 5, 2017, from lymphoma.
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