Friday, January 14, 2005

Poet's suites extoll life in Morgantown

A very nice article in the Daily Athenaeum today. It's about a very well published poet, and listed among Famous West Virginians.

He also has a website at where you can sample some of his writings. If you are interested in purchasing anything by him Amazon has a nice selection of his work.

By Brian Barnett

His name is William F. DeVault. He is a mere poet to some in Morgantown, but to his readers, his ability to capture intimate emotions through writing is what makes him an artist.
A 1973 graduate of Morgantown High raised along Meadowbrook Road, DeVault pursued his passion for writing while briefly attending West Virginia University as a journalism student, before finally pursuing a full-time career as a poet.
Now at the age of 49, DeVault has published five books about love, romance, loss, death and everything in between. He has accumulated a list of awards that include Yahoo's Romantic Poet of the Internet, Preditors & Editors Readers Poll Poet of the Year and the first American poet named to the Edinburgh International Internet Festival of Arts.
Furthermore, he has a global following that includes Ireland and Los Angeles, where they use his works to teach in high school and where he is a popular commodity for poetry reading nights, tours and lectures.
But in his own hometown he seems to go unnoticed and unrecognized. At his high school, Morgantown High, his first name is incorrect in the alumni database and he is not included among its accomplished alumni.
Meanwhile, West Virginia Wesleyan College's Web site displays a page about his accomplishments, while his own university, WVU, he said has not responded to his willingness to be a speaker or helper in any area of the arts department.
With such prestige already given to De Vault, how does he respond to being relatively unknown in his own community?
His response is much like that of his poetry, metaphorical.
"Have you ever liked a girl to the point where you told her you loved her?" DeVault asks.
"And at the same moment she never gives you love in return," DeVault continues. "But you continue to love her anyway."
This story is also true of DeVault's relationship with his hometown. While the bizarre nature of the ignorance of his notoriety persists, DeVault continues to be very passionate about the area.
Considered one of the great romantic poets of the new Digital Renaissance, he has also written hundreds of poems about Morgantown.
Many of his major life decisions and events occurred while he lived in Morgantown - from the time he was 11 years old until he was 26.
"This town is where my mom and dad were born and raised, where I met my first love, where I first got beat up, where I had my first kiss, where my brother's fiancé was killed, where I lost my virginity and where my daughter was born," DeVault said.
Not only is his passion for Morgantown evident in his writings, but also in his short term goals for himself. On Dec. 16, 2004, DeVault, also a former youth counselor, addressed the West Virginia State Board of Education in Charleston about the importance of the study of arts for all students.
Currently the board is proposing a plan in which high school students on a vocational and technical plan will not be required to take any arts class. While there was no one in attendance to speak from WVU or the Monongalia County Board of Education, DeVault was very adamant about this new proposal.
"I feel like we would be short-changing students," DeVault said. "I believe there needs to be a full spectrum of education because it opens more paths for students."
DeVault's passion for the study of the arts in Morgantown is also notable in the plans for his new book. The book will be a collection of poems about Morgantown, entitled "The Morgantown Suite." All the royalties and proceeds from the book will go to Arts Monongahela, a local arts advocacy group.
There will be approximately 85 poems in all; some written a very long time ago, some written two and half years ago during a visit and even a few written since his recent decision to move back to Morgantown.
He believes this is his way of saying "thank you" to Morgantown, and also a step toward his dream of making Morgantown more of an art town - not just a bar town.
And while he is still uncertain about why he continues to be ignored here, he will continue to write emotional poetry about his hometown and about his life.
"I will never quit writing. Retirement is the time between when I die and when I hit the floor. Death comes when I stop writing, reasoning, learning and falling in love," DeVault said.

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