Marilyn Kallet Named as City's New Poet Laureate

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
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(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Marilyn Kallet Named as City's New Poet Laureate

Posted: 06/27/2018
Marilyn Kallet named Poet LaureateMayor Madeline Rogero today named Marilyn Kallet as Knoxville’s new Poet Laureate. She will succeed R.B. Morris, who is the first to hold the position, when his term expires at the end of this month.

Kallet is an acclaimed poet and professor in the University of Tennessee’s English Department, where for years she was the director of the Creative Writing Program. She has published 18 books including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, poetry from Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems, Péret’s The Big Game, and co-translated Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City. Her other volumes include children’s books, essays, and anthologies of women’s literature.

“I am so pleased to announce Marilyn’s appointment as our next Poet Laureate,” Mayor Rogero said. “She is a great and gifted writer, and she has been a champion for poetry’s ability to bring people together and help heal individuals and communities. She loves Knoxville and East Tennessee, and I can’t wait to read and hear the work she will produce as Poet Laureate.”

Kallet was born in Montgomery, Ala., and grew up in New York City. Her degrees are from Tufts University, the Sorbonne, and Rutgers (where she earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.) She joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee in 1981 and will become professor emerita there beginning July 1. 

“I'm honored to serve as Knoxville's Poet Laureate!” Kallet said. “R.B. Morris is a hard act to follow, but I am already composing praise songs for every leaf, feather and stone in our city. And our mayor? When I see the image of Mayor Rogero's face greeting me at the airport, I know I'm home! She gives me hope. She told me I was the 'face of Knoxville,' but every one of us is the face of the city."

The City of Knoxville Poet Laureate Program aims to extend and build on the city’s cultural heritage, by recognizing and supporting citizen poets of exceptional talent and accomplishment. Each Poet Laureate serves a term of up to two years, during which she or he serves as a public voice of Knoxville, creating city-specific works and participating in literary outreach and education.

For more information about the Poet Laureate Program and Marilyn Kallet, see

After the announcement, Marilyn Kallet read a selection entitled Fireflies from her book of poetry, Packing Light: New and Selected Poems. Black Widow Press, 2009.

Click here to view Facebook live video of the announcement.