University Welcomes the Former Cabinet Secretary and the State’s First African-American Male Poet Laureate
UPDATED JANUARY 17, 2020:
GRAMBLING, LA – January 10, 2020 – Grambling State University invites campus, community and media to attend a visit by former Cabinet Secretary and Louisiana’s first Black male Poet Laureate, John Warner Smith, on March 16, 2020 in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall at 11 a.m.
“We are excited to welcome John Warner Smith to engage our students,” said President Rick Gallot. “His unique work is unifying demographics and reflecting the rich cultures throughout our state and nation.”
The visit to Grambling State is sponsored by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities as part of a statewide initiative for fellow Louisianans to explore and engage with poetry.
“Poetry found me long before I realized that I was a poet, even as I pursued other career interests,” said Smith. “The journey has been quite fulfilling, and I feel blessed to be a vessel in that sense. As an African American writer, my perspectives are not unique, but I do portray the human condition in a different and somewhat important light, particularly of history and personal experience.”
About John Warner Smith
John Warner Smith, a Morgan City, Louisiana native, began writing poetry while building a successful career as a public administrator and a banker. His last public sector position was service on the cabinet of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Labor, where he led the recovery of the state’s workforce development system in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Smith has published four collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (ULL Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness(MadHat Press, 2016) and A Mandala of Hands (Kelsay Books – Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in America, is forthcoming in 2019 from MadHat Press.
Smith’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Callaloo, Antioch Review, North American Review, Quiddity, The Worcester Review, Kestrel, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, American Athenaeum, Transition, and other literary journals. His first book-length manuscript was a finalist in the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award competition. Smith’s poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology by Sundress Publications.
About Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) is a statewide, private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation run by a board of directors with the mission to partner with communities, institutions, and individuals to explore Louisiana’s past, reflect on our present, and imagine our future.
This program is funded under a grant from the LEH, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication, program, exhibition, or website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.