Coberly, Lenore McComas 1925-

views updated

COBERLY, Lenore McComas 1925-


Born 1925, in Hamlin, WV; married Camden Arthur Coberly, June 14, 1946 (died, December 9, 2001); children: four. Education: Earned an M.B.A.


Home—Madison, WI. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Haworth Press, 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904.


Poet and writer. Formerly worked in business administration. Former teacher of creative writing, University of Wisconsin—Madison.


(With Jeri McCormick and Karen Updike) Writers Have No Age: Creative Writing with Older Adults, Haworth Press (Binghamton, NY), 1984, reprinted as Writers Have No Age: Creative Writing for Older Adults, 2004.

Belonging: Poems, illustrated by Elizabeth Coberly Benforado, Fireweed Press (Madison, WI), 1989.

(Editor, with Jeri McCormick) Waiting for Poems (chapbook), Fireweed Press (Madison, WI), 2000.

The Handywoman Stories, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2002.

Also author of poetry chapbooks. Contributor to newspapers and periodicals.


Lenore McComas Coberly has taught creative writing to adults and has participated in "round robin" poetry mailings. A former business-woman who turned to creative writing in her retirement years, Coberly is best known for her collection of short stories, The Handywoman Stories. Set in and around her native community of Hamlin, West Virginia, Coberly's stories paint a picture of female resourcefulness in the demanding environment of the West Virginia mountains. Her characters set themselves tasks, from fixing broken objects to correcting troubled relationships, all with a deep sense of attachment to home. Bill Bibo, Jr. in Capital Times, wrote that Coberly's twenty short stories "pull readers into the daily lives of Alma Ruth, Ruby Louise and a host of others who populate—or simply pass through—Lincoln County, W.Va. We find out about their loves, fears and unfilled dreams—and in doing so find out a little bit more about ourselves." A Publishers Weekly critic liked the way Coberly "taps into the lost tradition of rural storytelling" in her work. The critic also noted that Handywoman Stories "capture[s] the flavor of smalltown life."

In an interview published in People & Mountains, Coberly said: "Always when I'm writing there are the strands of understanding, of observation, of memory that I have. And I simply take from them what my art requires; that is, the story is boss.… I think a sense of place is very much there in all of the mountain writing that I know anything about. We're just that way."



Capital Times (Madison, WI), October 27, 2000, "Round Robin Poets Fly High," section A, p. 9; July 11, 2002, Bill Bibo, Jr., "Remembered Images of Appalachia: Local Author to Read from Book of Short Stories."

Publishers Weekly, April 22, 2002, review of The Handywoman Stories, p. 50.


People & Mountains, (fall, 2002), Jane J. Siers, "'The Story Is Boss:' An Interview with Lenore McComas Coberly."*