The Arts Council unanimously nominated Dorothy
Nell for Kentucky Poet Laureate. Whether she wins or not, she is OUR Poet Laureate. Below is the introduction to
Dorothy Nell Harper was born Dorothy Nell Jones in Livingston County Kentucky
in January 1917. Her family moved to Arlington in Carlisle County Kentucky where she finished high school. Dorothy
Nell was the youngest of four children. Her first poem, “Ideas of a Boy” was written in 1925 when she was just eight years old.
Her teacher, Miss Volinda Adkins, thought it was worth publishing in the Arlington Courier, the local weekly hometown
newspaper. For an eight year old, it was quite an honor.
Dorothy Nell thought she left poetry behind when she married
Collins “Bill” Harper in 1933. She moved from Carlisle County to Hickman County and began her life as a farmer’s
wife. Bill and Dorothy had one son, Reginald. The family was an intricate part of the New Chapel Methodist Church where Dorothy
Nell taught adult Sunday School. She is an accomplished organist, playing for her church. She gave of her time to school functions
and to various community efforts and served as Clinton Women’s Club President.
Bill died, Dorothy Nell took an active part in managing the farm. Later she turned it over to her son. She began to have time
to enjoy the view from her home and would awaken at night to write a poem about the events of a previous day. When a poetry
group was formed in Clinton for the simple enjoyment of poetry, Dorothy Nell presented her own work, “My Corn Patch”.
She wrote of being a farmer’s wife. Her first book, “Stepping Stones…Poetry Bridging a Lifetime and a Century” was
published in 2002 when she was eighty five years old. The book was a Dorothy Nell product from dust wrapper
to back endpaper. The hummingbird on the cover was an artist’s depiction of the hundreds of hummingbirds that flock
to her property every spring. She reports she bought 240 pounds of sugar for her hummingbirds last year. She
marketed Stepping Stones as aggressively as her hummingbirds vie for sugar. She went anywhere and everywhere to sell her books.
She read to schools and libraries and senior citizen groups.
Her second book, “Sands of Time, then and now”
came out in 2004. She again chose which poems to include, organized them with the help of Karen Harper, supervised Christina
Harper’s photographs on the cover, and again took to the road to market the second book.
Her third book, “For
Love of Poetry, today and always” is, as she says in her Foreword, “proof that age need not interfere with dreams.”
Dorothy Nell is already booking appearances for March 2007. Diagnosed with glaucoma, she is still committed to share
her vision and her love of poetry with all who will listen.” She is now eighty nine years old.
her poetry, she has said, “The thing is about my poetry is that it’s so easy to read. I use three to four letter
words whenever I can. Imagination is the door through which we must go to escape to other worlds…I know, for I go there
often!” Self educated, self taught, honored as a valued member of West Kentucky, it is an honor to nominate Dorothy Nell Harper
on behalf of the unanimous vote of the Hickman County Arts Council.
Mary B. Potter, Chair, Hickman County Arts Council