Wilma Acree Bio

Wilma Acree writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her poems have appeared in various publications including Crazy River, Pudding Magazine, and Algonquin. She has published two poetry chapbooks: About Bee Robbing and Other Things (Tantra Press, 1995) and Wilma Acree: Greatest Hits 1985-2000 (Pudding House, 2001). Wilma serves as executive director of the Ohio Valley Literary Group and as editor of Confluence literary magazine. She has held numerous offices in West Virginia Writers, Inc. and has presented readings and workshops in West Virginia and Ohio. Lady, a fox terrier, and Willy, a Pomeranian mix, allow Wilma to live with them in Vienna, WV.

Wilma grew up on a farm near Ripley, WV. She read indiscriminately — cereal boxes, library books, books rescued from an abandoned one-room school. She never thought about being a writer, for authors were faraway, exotic people. Her family didn’t have TV until Wilma entered seventh grade. For entertainment, family members read or, if visitors came, told stories or sang ballads or hymns. Wilma’s poems reflect this influence.

The family love of story telling extends to younger members. Wilma’s nephew Richard Southall writes fiction and nonfiction. Her great-niece Morgan (10) and her great-great nephew Jonathan Izzo (8) want to become writers.

Wilma taught seventh-grade English for thirty-two years. As she searched for ways to help students improve their writing, she applied these techniques to her own work. In 1986 she joined the Ohio Valley Literary Group. At writing workshops, she received advice and examples from more advanced writers. At a reading in 2000, Wilma met poet Jennifer Bosveld of Pudding House Press. Bosveld asked to publish “What Ripley Was,” a poem Wilma had written in James Harms’ class at a West Virginia Writers’ annual conference. Wilma attended monthly all-day poetry classes at Pudding House for two years. Although she did not like the three-hour drive to Johnstown, OH, and the feeling of inferiority she sometimes had, Wilma met talented writers and learned from them. In 2003, Wilma applied for admission to The Kenyon Review’s Writers’ Workshop and was accepted. There she and eight other talented writers worked under poet Janet McAdam. Although she resisted the idea, Wilma learned that she could write on demand.

Wilma’s favorite authors include Maxine Kumin, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Lucille Clifton, Diane Ackerman, Barbara Kingsolver, Denise Giardina, Lee Martin, and Sena Naslund.

Wilma’s goals include publication of a full-length poetry collection, a collection of stories her parents told, and a Civil War novel set in West Virginia. Of course, she has to write the stories and novel first!

Wilma offers this advice to aspiring writers:
(1) Join a writers’ group. Be receptive to advice from more advanced writers.
(2) Attend readings and conferences. You will learn something (even if it’s what not to do).

Wilma dislikes writing about herself and finds it hard to tolerate pompous people.. She likes to read and write poems, short stories, and books. She enjoys dogs, children, and computers.