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So, What Does A Poet Laureate Do? Kentucky's Weighs In

fred smock

Poet, author, and Bellarmine University English professor Frederick Smock was named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate in May and is eager to do the job. I spoke with Smock about his duties, inspirations, and he read some of his work. You can listen to our conversation in the player above.

With Smock's permission, the two poems he recites in the conversation are below.

The Forest

Every forest has a central tree

One the whole forest leans on

You may not be able to find it

it lives deep in the heart

it may even have fallen years ago

But its memory is that strong


Camera Obscura

Others boys built centrifuges,

stone polishers, water wheels.

My boy chose a camera obscura

for the fall-term science fair.


He crawled under a blanket

with pencil, paper, pinhole,

and doodled what he saw

in his eye’s mind – lunar seas,


a subtlety of shadows in

the ferocity of a September sun.

When he emerged, blinking,

he held the moon in his palm,


an ancient medallion also worn

by Aristotle, and Anthemius of Tralles.


Both of these poems are from the collection "The Bounteous World," published by Broadstone Books.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.