City names first Honorary Poet Laureate

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2022) – The City of Oak Ridge has named Erin Elizabeth Smith as its first Honorary Poet Laureate. Smith will serve in this role for a two-year period.

In this role, she will inspire and promote literacy and literature to the residents of the City at things like cultural events and City celebrations. With Oak Ridge being a unique community as the first and primary Manhattan Project site, it places a high value on literacy as foundation to our other values of education, science, technology, and environmental stewardship.

In Fall 2021, Oak Ridge City Council was approached about the concept of establishing the honorary position of Poet Laureate for the Oak Ridge Community. City Council was in concurrence, the Oak Ridge Poet Laureate Committee was created, and a nomination and selection process took place.

Smith was selected after a detailed review of three nominees and was formally designated to the role at the Feb. 14, 2022, City Council meeting.

“During my tenure, I’m looking forward to continuing to be a part of this vibrant community and writing work that investigates and celebrates our history, and our now,” Smith said after accepting the role at the meeting.

The selection committee noted that Smith has extensive publication and teaching experience. She has a long history of community engagement and the promotion of poetry workshops with a large network of contacts in the region and beyond, noting her very strong social media presence.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Executive Director for Sundress Publications and the Sundress Academy for the Arts, a writers residency in Karns. She is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, most recently DOWN (SFASU 2020), and her work has appeared in Guernica, Ecotone, Crab Orchard, and Mid-American Review, among others. Smith is a Distinguished Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

She also has a significant understanding and appreciation of the heritage of Oak Ridge. The role is an honorary post, not an official agent of the City of Oak Ridge.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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