Mayor Indya Kincannon has named Rhea Carmon as Knoxville’s new Poet Laureate. Carmon, who performs under the name RheaSunshine, succeeds Dr. Marilyn Kallet, who was named the City’s second poet laureate in June 2018 by Mayor Madeline Rogero, and continued to serve during the first six months of Mayor Kincannon’s term.


“The Poet Laureate program has shown that poetry enriches and transforms our perspective on our city and our places within it,” Mayor Kincannon said. “I’m eager to experience Knoxville through Rhea Carmon’s eyes.”


The 20-year veteran of poetry slams and performance stages is also a teacher and mother to two young boys with her husband Marcus. She is the founder and Executive Director of The 5th Woman Cohort, a poetry and performance group.


“Thank you to the City of Knoxville and Mayor Kincannon for granting me the honor of representing the many amazing poets and writers that we have in our great city,” Carmon said. “I am excited to continue the work performed by former poet laureates R.B. Morris and Marilyn Kallet while lending my own talents to encourage the exposure of local citizens to the art of poetry.”


Kallet champions the choice.


“Rhea is a poetry presence, a truth-teller and a singer,” Kallet said. “Times are tough, and we can’t get together in person as much as we would like. Rhea has met and overcome many obstacles. She has the character and the art to make the best of this difficult time, through poetry!”


The City of Knoxville Poet Laureate Program aims to extend and build on the city’s cultural heritage, by recognizing and supporting resident poets of exceptional talent and accomplishment. Each Poet Laureate serves a term of up to two years, during which she or he serves as a public voice of Knoxville, creating city-specific works and participating in literary outreach and education.


R.B. Morris served as the City’s first poet laureate from 2016 to 2018.


For more details about the Poet Laureate Program, visit