The Poet’s Poet
Virginia’s new poet laureate on the physicality of poetry, what drew him in – and his college life on the gridiron.
By Brent Baldwin
“Gov. Terry McAuliffe named Ron Smith as the state’s poet laureate last week. And it’s likely that no one who ever set foot in his classrooms at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Mary Washington, the University of Richmond or St. Christopher’s School — where he teaches and was chairman of the English department for 21 years — was surprised.
Smith is a poet’s poet, highly erudite and passionate about the work. Most important, he is always working, filling notebook after notebook with words.
“Ron is a poet of great accomplishment who has long been an incredible role model and mentor for others in pursuit of the art,” emails Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former laureate Claudia Emerson, who now teaches at VCU.
A native of Savannah, Ga., Smith came to Richmond in 1967 to play football for the University of Richmond, where he was a stout offensive guard on a team that won the Tangerine Bowl and became the first-ever “team of distinction” inducted into the Spider Sports Hall of Fame.
Since 2009, apart from teaching, traveling and serving on advisory boards for James River Writers and the Poetry Society of Virginia, Smith has been the poetry editor for Aethlon: the Journal of Sports Literature. There, he says, he’s even found sports poems he loves about curling.
Smith’s new designation lasts two years, and he will succeed Sofia M. Starnes as the 17th poet laureate since the post’s establishment by the General Assembly in 1936. Style Weekly connected with him the day after he was officially appointed.”
Copied from “Style Weekly” Richmond’s alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion July 8, 2014
The 2016 Artemis Journal and celebration launch featuring our guest writer, Ron Smith is sponsored by The Roanoke Arts commission and The Taubman Museum