Smith Named Wyoming’s New Poet Laureate

Smith Named Wyoming’s New Poet Laureate

Barbara Smith courtesy photo.

ROCK SPRINGS — Barbara Smith became Wyoming’s ninth Poet Laureate when Gov. Mark Gordon appointed the longtime Rock Springs educator and writer Oct. 26.

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. In retirement, Smith continues to teach memoir writing workshops and published her first poetry book, “Putting a Name on It” last year.

Smith’s 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. 

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The 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.

“Barbara’s poetry captures the essence of Wyoming and is instantly relatable,” 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.”