Louisiana’s new poet laureate is making history for his two year term

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MONROE, La (02/19/20) — The new state appointed poet laureate visited with students and staff at Delta Community College today to share his poems and writings.

John Warner Smith says he’s proud to share his poems at Delta during Black History Month.

Governor John Bel Edwards appointed him as poet laureate back in August and since then he’s been able to speak all across the state sharing the history of Louisiana as he explores poetry with Louisianans.

Smith is a native Louisianian and a professor; he’s making history as the first African American man to be the state poet laureate. Since the position started in 1942, there’s been two African American women, but no men.

“For me, it’s special that I’m the first black man. I bring a new face for poetry for many people across the state especially for young people I think,” said John Warner Smith, State Poet Laureate.

Smith enjoys sharing his writing with others as he writes from personal experiences about his life in Louisiana.

“Poetry gives–it gives everybody, but especially young people an opportunity for self expression. They can say things in poetry that come out of them that they wouldn’t say in any other way,” said Smith.

In his two year term as poet laureate, Smith is speaking to students about poetry and his perspectives on historical events.

“It’s really cool, because I really like poetry and poetry is big culture that everyone should know,” said Joselina King, Student at OPHS.

“It was very inspirational. It brings poetry back to modern society since it’s kind of going away.” said Lester Cambre, Phi Theta Kappa Pres. of National Honor Society at LDCC.

Smith says he hopes his tour around the state will bring him back to North Louisiana in the fall to speak with the younger generation about the importance of Louisiana history in poetry.

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