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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: George Pool Ballard

Though he is largely forgotten today, African American poet George Pool Ballard is a noteworthy figure in Arkansas’s literary history.

Born in 1882, Ballard was working minor jobs in Fayetteville when he began publishing poems in the Daily Democrat, edited by Lessie Stringfellow Read. His 1924 poem “Woodrow Wilson—A Tribute” was reprinted in several newspapers, bringing him national attention.

Though Read saw “no serious literary worth” in Ballard’s poetry, she oversaw publication of Ozark “Ballards,” a collection of his poems printed to help pay his mortgage. Ballard’s poems showed effective use of rhyme schemes, meter, verse forms and other devices, and some offered commentary on racial issues.

In 1936 the library of Fayetteville’s new Lincoln School for Black students was dedicated as the George Ballard Library and he often attended meetings of the University-City Poetry Club.

He died on December 3, 1951, and lies in an unmarked grave in Oak Cemetery. You can read the entire Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry at encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/george-pool-ballard-14584.

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.