Poet and Author Karle Wilson Baker


A Love Your Parks Tour Literary Story, assigned by the literary publicist team at BooksForward.

As part of our adventures in Nacogdoches, “The Oldest Town of Texas,” we decided to follow its statue trail that interprets the lives and works of its notable residents, such as Stephen F. Austin “The Father of Texas.” We found poet and author Karle Wilson Baker’s statue with her poem “Thrushes,” as featured in her 1919 collection, “Blue Smoke.” Karle was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 13, 1878. She was educated at the University of Chicago and studied under poet William Vaughn Moody and novelist Robert Herrick.

Along with her fiction writing and poetry, she taught school in Nacogdoches. She fell in love with the natural beauty of this East Texas community and moved there permanently in 1906. She married her future husband Thomas Ellis Baker in 1907 and together had two children. Their daughter Charlotte Baker Montgomery also became a writer. Karle taught contemporary poetry at local Stephen F. Austin University, when her poem  “The Pine Tree Hymn” became the school song.

Karle became one of the Lone Star State’s most talented writers and received the most recognition and honors of any female poet in Texas during the 20th century. She was also the first female and third person to be named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters and  was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her last collection of poetry “Dreamers on Horseback” in 1931. Some of her other books and poetry collections include “The Garden of the Plynck,”  “The Burning Bush,” “Old Coins,” “The Birds of Tanglewood,” “Family Style,” and “Star of the Wilderness.” Her poem “Growing Old” is found in many poetry anthologies.

National Parks Arts Foundation

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