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.