Inaugural reading with new Louisiana Poet Laureate October 9

Louisiana’s new Poet Laureate, John Warner Smith, will give his inaugural reading in the post Wednesday, October 9, from 6:30–7:30 p.m., at the Louisiana Humanities Center, 938 Lafayette Street in New Orleans. Admission to the event is free.

Chosen by Governor John Bel Edwards, Smith teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge, in addition to regularly publishing new works of poetry.

Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith. Photo by Brian Pavlich

A fellow of Cave Canem, Smith has four published collections of poetry with a fifth due soon, and his poems have appeared in numerous literary journals across the country. Much of his poetry draws upon African American history and his personal experiences of growing up and living in the South. He also directs Education’s Next Horizon, a non-profit policy advocacy organization dedicated to improving public education in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) leads the Louisiana Poet Laureate selection process, with a committee of poets and scholars winnowing down submissions to three nominations, which are then sent to the governor for final selection. Smith assumed the post August 14 and will serve for two years, travelling the state encouraging fellow Louisianans to explore and engage with poetry.

At the reading, outgoing Poet Laureate Jack Bedell will introduce Smith, and a book signing will follow the reading. Copies of Smith’s books will be available for sale, as well. The reading takes place at the LEH’s Louisiana Humanities Center, 938 Lafayette Street, in New Orleans. Admission is free, and no registration is required.