According to jbhe.com, professor and writer John Warner Smith has been appointed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the state’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, to serve as the next Poet Laureate of Louisiana. This appointment makes Smith the first African American man to hold the position.
“John Warner Smith’s writing captures the human experience through meaningful, passionate poetry that moves your emotions. John is not only a talented and gifted poet, he is a trailblazer who devotes himself to education and the greater good of the community,” Gov. Edwards said.
“He is making history today as the first African American male appointed as Louisiana Poet Laureate, and I’m confident that John will serve our great state well. I want to thank the LEH for leading this search, and I congratulate all of the nominees whose writings tell the unique stories of Louisiana, the place we call home.”
Currently, Smith teaches English at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has published four collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain(Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (University of Louisiana Lafayette Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness(MadHat Press, 2016), and A Mandala of Hands(Kelsay Books-Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Out Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in America, is forthcoming this year from MadHat Press.
Tim Seibles, professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, was named poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Professor Seibles teaches in the master of fine arts in creative writing program at Old Dominion.
Professor Seibles joined the faculty at Old Dominion University in 1995. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012 for his collection Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012).
Professor Seibles is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He taught for 10 years in the Dallas public school system before earning a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. It has a membership of more than 4,000 scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines including all the natural sciences. Its membership includes at least 200 Nobel Prize winners and more than 50 winners of a Pulitzer Prize. This year, 198 new fellows were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Among the new fellows are three African American women with ties to academia.
• Paula T. Hammond is the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
• Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
• Natasha Trethewey is the Poet Laureate of the United States and the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University in Atlanta.