Showcasing the Arts


Kentucky Poet Laureate
Frederick Smock: Biography

Frederick Smock
Kentucky Poet Laureate
2017 — 2018

“In my teaching, I like to bring poetry to everyone. I imagine that will color
some of what I do as poet laureate.” — Frederick Smock, Kentucky Poet Laureate


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Fred Smock
© Photo by Olga-Maria Cruz


As a boy, Louisville native Smock immersed himself in the literature of Kentucky luminaries James Still and Jesse Stuart. He even corresponded with Stuart while working on a book report. In his last letter to Smock, Stuart wrote, “I hope you get an A,” an endorsement Smock made sure to include in his report.

“And I believe I did,” Smock said.

Though he was born in Louisville and has lived in the city for much of his life, Smock’s work reflects upon his formative years spent in the country.

“I find myself drawn to nature. When I was 6, we moved to Fern Creek (in Jefferson County) where my father built a house on a hill in the midst of a forest. Those years were spent wandering fields and forest mostly on my own,” Smock said. “It was laying my imagination on that landscape and drawing from that experience. I can’t say I direct my mind that way. The inspiration comes to me, but those sources give me a lot to work with.

With the exception of one summer teaching in Denmark, Smock has lived, written and taught in Kentucky all his life. An author of 10 books of poems and essays, with two more on the way, and four chapbooks, Smock has earned several awards for his writing and teaching, including the 2002 Henry Leadingham Poetry Prize, the 2003 Jim Wayne Miller Prize for Poetry, Bellarmine University’s 2005 Wilson Wyatt Faculty Award and the 2008 Kentucky Literary Award for Poetry. The Kentucky Arts Council honored him in 1995 with an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry.

“Frederick Smock has the passion and insight required to take on this important literary ambassador position for Kentucky and I have no doubt that he will impact people’s lives in meaningful ways through his work in this role,” said Lydia Bailey Brown, arts council executive director. “The arts council looks forward to working collaboratively with him during his tenure.”


Page last updated: October 29, 2018
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