In June 2014 Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Ron Smith Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Mr. Smith is the author of the books The Humility of the Brutes (2017, LSU Press), Its Ghostly Workshop (2013, LSU Press), Moon Road: Poems 1986-2005 (2007, LSU Press), and Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery (1988, University Presses of Florida). Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery was judged by Margaret Atwood "a close runner-up" for the National Poetry Series Open Competition and by Donald Hall “the runner-up” for the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. A second, slightly expanded edition of Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery will be issued by MadHat Press in 2019.
Mr. Smith was an Inaugural Winner of the prestigious Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize; from 2006 to 2015 he was one of the Curators of that prize. He's the recipient of Southern Poetry Review’s Guy Owen Prize (judge, Linda Pastan), Poetry Northwest’s Theodore Roethke Prize, and several other awards. In 2016 he was awarded the Ellen Anderson Poetry Prize. In 2017 he was the Bingham Fund Guest Writer at Milton Academy. In 2018 he was a Featured Poet at the American Library in Paris.
Ron Smith’s poems have appeared in numerous national and international magazines and journals, including The Nation, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, College English, Shenandoah, Kansas Quarterly, The Tampa Review, Blackbird, Plume, Puerto del Sol, Five Points, and Verse. In the twenty-first century, his poems have appeared in more than forty anthologies published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Italy.
During his time as Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2014 to 2016, Ron Smith gave readings and lectures from Manassas to Petersburg, from the Shenandoah Valley to the Tidewater, met with young people and with adult groups all across the Commonwealth to celebrate Virginia’s landscape, her history, and especially her poets. He appeared at Monticello and Mount Vernon, where he read his poems about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And Mr. Smith carried Virginia’s poetry abroad. From British Columbia to Dublin, Ireland, to the Italian Alps, to the Keats-Shelley House and the official U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Rome, the Poet Laureate shared his love of poetry and of the Commonwealth though readings and presentations. Mr. Smith has been a presenter at international conferences focused on James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, and the literature of sport. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts commissioned him to write ekphrastic poems for its 2018 exhibition “The Horse in Ancient Greek Art.” In 2018 Mr. Smith read new poems at an International Hemingway Conference gathering in the Salon Gustave Eiffel on the Eiffel Tower.
Ron Smith chaired the English Department at St. Christopher’s for twenty-one years and has taught courses in poetry and poetry writing at the University of Mary Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University, and University of Richmond. He has taught Elder Hostel courses in "Poetry & the American Civil War,” as well as the short summer courses "Edgar Allan Poe" and "Classic Poems" to the residents of Westminster Canterbury. Through the Arts & Humanities Center of the Richmond public schools Mr. Smith provided in-service training for Advanced Placement English teachers. He sometimes conducts workshops for elementary, middle, and high school teachers and students at private and public schools. He has read his own work at numerous schools, universities, libraries, museums, and art galleries. His course on the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe was the very first offering in St. Christopher’s Chamberlayne Scholars series.
Mr. Smith has served as President of the Poetry Society of Virginia, and for many years served as Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and as a Trustee for James River Writers. He now serves on Advisory Boards for James River Writers and the Poetry Society of Virginia. He has been a Reader for New Virginia Review and served for some years on its Advisory Panel. For four years he was Poetry Editor of The Richmond Quarterly. In 1980, as "Wordsmith," he wrote and performed radio essays on the subject of language for The Chickahominy Review on WRFK radio. Since 2009, he has been the Poetry Editor for Aethlon: The Journal of Sports Literature. He also edited the poetry for Aethlon’s anthology issue, XXIX: 2.
Mr. Smith grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and attended college on a football scholarship, playing for the Tangerine Bowl Championship University of Richmond Spiders, the first-ever “Team of Distinction” to be inducted into the Spider Sports Hall of Fame. He and his wife Delores travel as much as they can, especially to Ireland and Italy.
[updated 25 March 2019]