Knoxville has been both home and inspiration to many writers, from Frances Hodgson Burnett to James Agee to Nikki Giovanni. Soon, it will also be home to an official Poet Laureate.

Mayor Madeline Rogero announced today the creation of the City of Knoxville Poet Laureate Program, which will designate a local Poet Laureate for a term of up to two years. The Poet Laureate will be nominated by a committee of the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, with the final appointment made by the Mayor.

“Knoxville has a long heritage of arts and letters, and a thriving local literary culture,” Mayor Rogero said. “The Poet Laureate Program will recognize and celebrate our luminous local talent, and it will add to Knoxville’s literary legacy. The works produced by our Poet Laureate will reflect and give artistic perspective on the life of our city – including this year’s 225th anniversary of Knoxville’s founding.”

Each Poet Laureate will serve for one year with an optional one-year renewal, at an annual honorarium of $3,000. A poet who has served as Poet Laureate may not be renominated. Full details of the program are on the City website at

The Arts & Culture Alliance is seeking nominees for the first Poet Laureate, to be named this summer. Legal residents of the corporate limits of the city of Knoxville may nominate a poet for the Poet Laureate position. Poets may not self-nominate. Those submitting nominations must be at least 21 years old. The deadline for nominations to be received is Friday, April 1, 2016.

“A lot of people don’t realize how many wonderful, acclaimed poets we have living and working in Knoxville,” said Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts & Culture Alliance. “I hope we will have a rich field of nominees to choose from for our first Poet Laureate. So get those nominations in!”

Nomination forms, full conditions for eligibility, and instructions for submission of nominations may be obtained from the Arts & Culture Alliance's website at, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Liza Zenni, Arts & Culture Alliance, PO Box 2506, Knoxville, TN 37901.

Nominees must be legal residents of the City of Knoxville for at least one year, at least 21 years old, and must have produced work of the highest caliber and critical acclaim and contributed substantial service to the development of the literary arts. The nominee may not be an employee or officeholder for the City of Knoxville or the Arts & Culture Alliance, or from the immediate family/household of such employees or officeholders.

Among the requirements of the position, the Poet Laureate will be expected to participate in at least four ceremonial/civic engagement events per year; participate in at least two “poetry advocacy” events per year; undertake one community outreach project to make poetry available and accessible to people in their everyday lives; and create a body of work including three poems each year.

The City of Knoxville shall retain license to use, reproduce, and compile the work created for the City by the Poet Laureate in his/her official capacity, but the Poet shall retain all other rights to the work.