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James Baker Hall

Brunk to present ‘Labor of Love’ at library

Poet Laureate James Baker Hall to speak

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(April 2002)CARROLLTON, Ky. – Laura McIntosh Scott was a midwife who delivered nearly 1,400 babies in her lifetime. She is the focus of an April 15 Kentucky Chautauqua performance at 6:30 p.m. at the Carroll County Public Library.

James & Mary Ann Hall

James Baker Hall
& Mary Ann Hall

A distant relative to Scott, Candy H. Brunk presents the Kentucky Humanities Council performance. In Brunk’s words, the 40-minute performance is “a composite of all the different stories I was told” about Scott. Brunk’s daughter, Shannon, accompanies her mother in the performance, which portrays an actual birth.
“I take people to that moment when the baby is born,” said Brunk, who is also a lay midwife.
Scott was self-educated in midwifery. To learn the proper procedures, she read an old textbook that had once belonged to a doctor. Her aunt Elizabeth schooled her on the usage of herbs.
Scott was born in 1872 in Estill County, Ky. She had seven brothers and sisters. Her father farmed and was in the logging business. Married four times, Scott had three children. When called to sit with an expectant mother, Scott was unexpectedly thrown into her profession.
While the husband rode off on a mule for the doctor, Scott was faced with birthing the baby before the doctor arrived.
After that experience, Scott’s reputation grew. She was accessible, said Brunk, in a period when doctors and hospitals were rare in such rural areas. Like herself, Brunk said she felt Scott was “addicted to the high you get when a baby is born.” Scott never lost a mother, said Brunk.
Scott was a well-educated woman who kept a record book for the births in which she assisted. She also led a simple life, maybe earning $100 in cash in her lifetime for her services. Scott’s patients paid her in doing repairs on her home and produce.
“She walked everywhere she went,” said Brunk.
Being only 3 years old when Scott died, Brunk said she relied on stories from family members and people who knew Scott to compile the background information for this performance. “I try to stay true to the person she was,” she said.
Scott was still delivering babies in the 1950s. At age 90, she delivered triplets.
Brunk said the goal of such Chautauqua performances is “to put a face on history.” Granny Scott made a profound impact on a rural community, devoting her life to birthing babies.
For more information contact the library at (502) 732-7020. Additional performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the Owen County Public Library and 7 p.m. on April 23 at the Boone County Public Library in Florence, Ky.
Kentucky Poet Laureate to speak April 22
James Baker Hall, Kentucky Poet Laureate, will speak at 6:30 p.m. on April 22 at the Carroll County Public Library.
Hall is a native Kentuckian, born in Lexington in 1935. He attended UK along with fellow Kentuckian and author Wendell Berry of Port Royal.
Teaching, photography and writing have been part of his life throughout the years. Hall was named Kentucky Poet Laureate on April 24, 2001, during the Kentucky Writer’s Day celebration in Frankfort.
He will hold this title for two years, according to Daniel Strauss, arts program branch manager for the Kentucky Arts Council.
“It’s an important program,” Strauss said of the Kentucky Poet Laureate position. “It’s not very formulized, meaning each Kentucky Poet Laureate decides what he will do.”
There are two duties the Kentucky Poet Laureate must perform: make a presentation at the annual Kentucky Writer’s Day on April 24 and strive to promote the literary arts in Kentucky through readings of their work at meetings, seminars and conferences across the state. Although it is not required, Hall frequently travels throughout Kentucky, presenting lectures and poetry readings.
A selection committee studies the different nominations for Kentucky Poet Laureate, said Strauss, deciding who best qualifies for the position.
There are three criteria the nominees must meet: be a Kentucky resident, be a published author of a work which is informed by living in Kentucky, and have written a work which exhibits a high degree of creativity and clarity of form and style.
On Oct. 11-13, Hall is scheduled to be the keynote speaker and workshop leader for the Kentucky State Poetry Society’s Annual Poetry Workshop and Awards Weekend. This event will be held at Rough River Dam State Resort Park in Falls of Rough, Ky.

• For more information, call the library at (502) 732-7020 or visit the Kentucky Humanities Council website at: www.kyhumanities.org.

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