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Arkansas Poet Laureate to Inaugurate Visiting Poet Series

Suzanne Underwood Rhodes, Arkansas Poet Laureate

Suzanne Underwood Rhodes of Fayetteville, current poet laureate of Arkansas, will help launch Slant’s Visiting Poets Series with a reading October 11, beginning at 7 pm. The event will be held in the Fireplace Room of McCastlain Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. An informal reception with light refreshments will follow for those who wish to visit with Suzanne in person.

A poet, essayist, editor, and teacher, Suzanne is a native of New York. She attended James Madison University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English, and later Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a master of arts degree in creative writing. She taught creative writing at King University and St. Leo University and now teaches poetry workshops at the Muse Writers Center in Virginia. She was named to the post of poet laureate for a four-year term by Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson on February 1 of this year.

 Suzanne is the author of six books of poetry and lyrical essays , including 2021’s Flying Yellow: New and Selected Poems. She has also authored a guide for student poets titled The Roar on the Other Side.

 Her poems explore personal history and family, the allure of the natural world, the psychological contradictions and complexities of human personality, and spirituality. She holds words close to her ear to capture the rhythms and sounds that lead to poems. They have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared, as well as her essays, in numerous journals and anthologies.

In writing about her most recent collection, poet James Owen noted, “I have been reading and returning to Suzanne Underwood Rhodes’s poems for twenty-five years—as bulwark, as shelter, for their attentiveness to the beauties of language, for their persistent opening into grace—and now comes Flying Yellow, like a gift from a wise friend that arrives when most needed. Rhodes is at the height of her strength here, life-affirming, generous, and precise, a voice with work to do in the world and in the spirit.”

According to Michael Blanchard, editor of Slant, the October 11 reading will be the first in a proposed series of visits to campus by distinguished poets from outside the immediate UCA community. “Suzanne Underwood Rhodes was the natural choice to help us inaugurate this series,” he said. “She is the state’s new poet laureate and she is as passionate about teaching the craft of poetry to others as she is about writing her own poems. She’ll relate well to our students who take advantage of her visit.”

The next reading in the series is planned for April 2023.

The reading is free of charge and open to the public. For more information on the Slant Visiting Poet Series, reach out to