Meridian Star

Local News

November 14, 2010

Winifred Farrar words touched many

MERIDIAN —     Among posts and articles about the passing of poet Winifred Hamrick Farrar of Meridian, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, one question stands out:

    Who will replace her?

    "In the minds of Meridianites, Mrs. Farrar was the very best," said Anne McKee in a Nov. 12 column published in The Star. "Yes, Gov. (Haley) Barbour will have a tough decision."

    A native of the Collinsville community, Mrs. Farrar was appointed poet laureate in 1978 by then Gov. Cliff Finch. Her works include Moral intention in the work of William Faulkner: a call for positive action (1962); Cry Life (1968); The Seeking Spirit (1974); and Behind the Ridge (1987).

    In 2007, Mrs. Farrar wrote the poem "Treasurers," which was commissioned for presentation to fellow Mississippi native Robin Roberts on the one-year anniversary of Roberts co-anchoring with Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America." She read the poem about her home state – which includes the passage "These Mississippi beauties I extol. Huckleberry bushes with pink rosettes. Water lilies. An open cotton boll. Cows in lush pastures and puppies as pets. Magnolia blooms and stars in velvet night ... " – on the morning program.

    Mrs. Farrar taught English in the Meridian Public School System for 30 years. As with her poetry, Mrs. Farrar made a lasting impression as an educator.

    According to McKee, Farrar was an inspiration to her students.

    "Those students who sat in her class to learn were well rewarded. Mrs. Farrar displayed a true passion – a passion to teach," McKee wrote. "She was loved and respected ... She truly cared about her students."

    McKee's sentiments are shared by many of Mrs. Farrar's former students. On the Meridian High Alumni Message Board, several of her former students express their sadness at her passing, noting how she influenced them – not just while they were students, but for a lifetime.

    Mrs. Farrar is recognized as Jeff East's "all-time favorite teacher," on his list of teachers who influenced him. East says she taught him to "think, to write, and to enjoy and appreciate good writing."

    Donna Jordan recognized Mrs. Farrar on a post about National Teacher Appreciation Day in May, noting that she, as well as several other teachers, gave her "a particular perspective on language and instilled a lifelong love affair for me with language and words."

    J.B. Griffith, who notes that he had the privilege of taking English from Mrs. Farrar twice (in eighth and 11th grades), also considers her his most favorite high school teacher.     

    "I truly believe that teachers like Mrs. Farrar are a vanishing breed," he wrote. "She truly cared about her students learning the subject."

    In addition to her published works and teaching, Mrs. Farrar was a past president of the Mississippi Poetry Society, served as the Mississippi representative for Voices International Inc. and the World Poetry Society and was a member of several literary organizations.

    Mrs. Farrar received numerous recognitions, including distinguished service citations from World Poetry Society International, World Congress of Poets and the International Poets Academy. She is listed in "Who's Who in Poetry," "Who's Who in Mississippi" and was selected for "Who's Who in Mississippi Hall of Fame."

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