Irene McKinney, for her poetry, has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship as well as two West Virginia Commission on the Arts Fellowships. She is the author of five books of poems and the editor of the anthology Backcountry: Contemporary Writing in West Virginia. She has held fellowships at MacDowell Colony and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She was appointed Poet Laureate of West Virginia in 1994. She is Professor Emerita at West Virginia Wesleyan College.