Rock Springs poet Barbara Smith named Wyoming Poet Laureate
November 2, 2023
Governor Mark Gordon has appointed Rock Springs poet Barbara Smith as Poet Laureate. She is the ninth Poet Laureate in state history.
Smith taught for 38 years at Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC) prior to her retirement in 2007. While at WWCC, she directed the Wesswick Lecture Series in the Arts and Education, bringing numerous visiting writers to the school's campus in southwest Wyoming.
"Barbara's poetry captures the essence of Wyoming and is instantly relatable," Governor Gordon said. "Her work speaks to the incredible changes that have taken place in the state and across the West since the arrival of the first pioneers."
Smith has a newly released collection of poetry – her first full-length poetry collection – titled Putting a Name on It. In addition, her poetry and essays have been published in collections such as Wyoming Fence Lines; Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming, and the three book series: Leaning Into the Wind, Woven on the Wind, and Crazy Woman Creek. Other publications include the Montana anthology The Last Best Place; Ucross: the 1st Ten Years; Letters from Wyoming; Wyoming Promises; and Drive, He Said, an anthology about Americans and their cars, and Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone, among others. In 2006, she received the Wyoming Governor's Arts Award for her contributions in support of the arts in Sweetwater County as well as for her own writing.
The Poet Laureate position was established in Wyoming in 1981. The appointment of the Poet Laureate is at the Governor's discretion. The Wyoming Arts Council solicits and compiles materials for consideration when requested by the Governor's Office and works closely with the Poet Laureate on public outreach and education opportunities.