Mad poet's society

(November 17, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- A flap over the post of Arkansas poet laureate is shaping up to be more like a political science class than an English lesson. Verna Lee Hinegardner of Hot Springs, who had been poet laureate since 1991, was shocked when she got a letter telling her another woman had been appointed. The 84-year-old Hinegardner was named by then-Governor Bill Clinton, and said she expected to have the post for life, as is state custom. Governor Huckabee recently named Peggy Vining of Little Rock to the post. He said he didn't realize he would be displacing another poet, and has no recollection of a letter over his signature sent to Hinegardner. Huckabee says he wants to smooth over Hinegardner's hurt feelings. Vining says she didn't want to displace anyone, but that the move may work out for the best. She says she's a young 74 years old and still drives.