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Virginia State Poet Laureates

Current Laureate: Ron Smith

Start of Term: June 27, 2014

Adopted on December 18, 1936

The position of Poet Laureate of Virginia was established December 18, 1936 by the General Assembly.

Originally the Poet Laureate of Virginia was appointed without outside consultation by the General Assembly, usually for one year. The procedure was later changed and most recently codified in 1998 in Virginia Code, Sec. 7.1-43. The text of the law follows:

7.1-43. Poet laureate.
The honorary position of Poet Laureate of Virginia is hereby created. Beginning in 1998, the Governor may appoint a poet laureate from a list of nominees submitted by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Each poet laureate shall serve a term of two years with no restrictions on reappointment.
(1997, c. 299.)


Ron Smith (June 27, 2014 - )

In June 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Ron Smith the poet laureate of Virginia. Smith is the writer-in-residence and George O. Squires Chair of Distinguished Teaching at St. Christopher's School in Richmond. He has authored three books of poetry- Its Ghostly Workshop (Louisiana State University Press, 2013), Moon Road: Poems 1986-2005 (Louisiana State University Press, 2007), and Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery (University Presses of Florida, 1988)- and has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, Southern Poetry Review's Guy Owen Prize, and Poetry Northwest's Theodore Roethke Prize. Smith will serve a two-year term.

Virginia State Poet Laureates

Previous Laureates include:

Carter Warner Wormeley (December 18, 1936-August 24, 1938)
Charles Day (appointed March 14, 1942)
Thomas Lomax Hunter (1948)
Leigh Buckner Hanes (1949)
Ruby Altizer Roberts (1950)
Guy Carleton Drewry (1970-1991)
Ruby Altizer Roberts (appointed Poet Laureate Emeritus in 1992)
Kathryn Forrester Thro (July 1, 1994-June 30, 1996)
Margaret Ward Morland (1996-1998)
Joseph Awad (1998-2000)
Grace Simpson (2000-2002)
George Garrett (July 9, 2002-2004)
Rita Dove (Sept. 20, 2004-June 25, 2006)
Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (June 26, 2006-June 2008)
Claudia Emerson (August 26, 2008-July 28, 2010)
Kelly Cherry (July 29, 2010-June 30, 2012)
Sofia Starnes (August 2, 2012-June 26, 2014)

Position History:

Position established December 18, 1936; codified in Virginia Code, § 1-512. The text of the law follows:

The honorary position of Poet Laureate of Virginia is hereby created. Beginning in 1998, the Governor may appoint a poet laureate from a list of nominees submitted by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Each poet laureate shall serve a term of two years with no restrictions on reappointment.

(1997, c. 299, § 7.1-43; 2005, c. 839.)

The first Virginia state poet laureate was Carter Warner Wormeley, who served a lifetime appointment. Poets laureate from Charles Day to Ruby Altizer Roberts were appointed to one-year terms by the General Assembly.



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