The Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville is inviting nominations for the next Poet Laureate for the City of Knoxville.


Mayor Madeline Rogero created the position of City Poet Laureate in June 2016 and named poet, musician and playwright R.B. Morris as the first holder of the office. In the past two years, Morris has composed and presented verse at major civic events and has worked with Knox County students and local community organizations to promote the appreciation and composition of poetry.


The person who succeeds Morris as the City’s second Poet Laureate will serve a term of one year, with an optional one-year renewal, beginning this summer. The Poet Laureate will serve as a public voice of Knoxville, creating city-specific works and participating in literary outreach and educational programs.


The deadline for nominations to be received is midnight on Sunday, April 8.


Knoxville has a long and rich literary heritage:


  • George Washington Harris’ Knoxville-based tales of Sut Lovingood were an influence on Mark Twain, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor;
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of “The Secret Garden,” wrote her first novel in Knoxville based on her experiences as an adolescent here;
  • Pulitzer Prize winners James Agee and Cormac McCarthy both grew up in Knoxville, and the city figures prominently in their works;
  • Poet Nikki Giovanni is a Knoxville native who attended Austin-East High School and has often written about her memories of the city.


The City’s Poet Laureate program aims to extend and build on this heritage by recognizing and supporting citizen poets of exceptional talent and accomplishment.


The Poet Laureate must live or work within the city limits of Knoxville, be at least 18 years old and have had published at least one book of poetry. The Poet Laureate will receive an annual honorarium of $3,000. Knoxvillians 18 or older may nominate someone for the position, but poets may not self-nominate.


For nomination forms, complete eligibility requirements and instructions for submission of nominations, visit Questions? Contact Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts & Culture Alliance, at 865-523-7543.