The State of Our City


Indya Kincannon
[email protected]
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City of Knoxville Poet Laureate Marilyn Kallet presented a poem at Mayor Rogero's State of the City Address.

Poem for Mayor Rogero's State of the City Address
by Poet Laureate Dr. Marilyn Kallet
Professor Emerita, University of Tennessee

The State of Our City
Knoxville, Tennessee, April 26, 2019

I’ll admit, the words “urban wilderness”
made me sweat. “Trailhead”
didn’t help. 

Then, at Ijams, a Box
Turtle in the back room
met my eye, and blurted,

“You’re part of nature, too,
Sweetie!” A zombie beaver
laughed aloud. (Might have been

my pal, Cindy Hassil.) Then
Rebekkah M. escorted me
around the trailheads–– 

and we spotted a “play forest” 
that made me yearn to be
an elf, and miles 

of trails––ah, 
a green wedding ring springs
around our city! Friends,

the state of our city 
is wider and more varied
than we dreamed!

Poetry Reading at State of the CityYes, we know Fourth & Gill,
and now we meet the cleaned-up South––
60 truckloads of trash hauled

from the wilderness sites!
We know Lakeshore and 
Sequoyah Hills, gardens out West.

We know Fort Sanders,
every inch history––
General Burnside still laughing at his ruse.

Thank you, Knoxville, for affordable housing and
our beloved Phyllis Wheatley Y.
Thank you, Freedom Schools, 
thank you to all our hard-working schools, 
magnet, public, private,

Thank you, city leaders, for 
less soot and smog.
Friends, your state of the city address

may be a bit different from
mine, but my, how we’ve grown,

We are the state of the city,
poets, mountain bikers, neighbors 
and mayors uniting to stop 

the highway from spoiling our Urban
Wilderness. Did you know that Mayor Rogero
threatened to strap herself

to a tree if developers tried to plow through?
Baker Creek, Fort Dickerson,
Burnett Creek, all the Forks of the River

High Ground, Ijams, River Bluff,
William Hastie, Marie Myers Park and 50 miles of trails,
all thank you for blocking bulldozers!

The Box Turtle looked me in the eye:
“We are one body,
one state of the city!

The zombie beaver warned,
“Don’t call me ‘Badger!’
Poet, learn the names of things!”

The name of the city is sweet,
green, Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Urban Wilderness

invites us: 
nothing to fear, 
everything to explore!