Emmitsburg names first Poet Laureate


Francis Smith first fell into poetry as a student at Saint Louis University in 1964

EMMITSBURG, Md (WDVM) — The Town of Emmitsburg has created a new tradition of naming a local Poet Laureate.

“I love words. I got to loving words and I just had to use them,” explained Francis Smith.

Smith is a longtime Emmitsburg resident. Notebooks and pads of paper are scattered inside his home, each of them filled with decades-worth of written poems.

It was in an English class at Saint Louis University in 1946 where Smith fell for poetry. He says in his second year, the professor read “Meet We No Angels, Pansie?” by Thomas Ashe, and suddenly poetry began to make sense.  

“It was a poem that I liked and then from there on, it worked out,” Smith said.

Smith graduated from the university and became a teacher. He taught English at Francis Scott Key High School in the 1970s and stayed there for 40 years before he retired.

Now, he’s been recognized at Emmitsburg’s first Poet Laureate.

“I think that the town should take pride in that they have one of their own that not only writes poetry in publications, but wants to inspire our youth or anybody of any age to write, put your thoughts on paper. People enjoy reading it,” explained Emmitsburg Town Manager, Cathy Willets.

“It was a complete surprise. And I’m still surprised,” said Smith.

Smith has self-published five volumes of his poetry. He says he’s still full of ideas on what to write and hopes that for those who read his work, they finish the last light feeling elated.

“That’s the reward of writing the poetry,” Smith explained, “to have the people say ‘I like it.’

 Town officials say Smith will carry the title for a two-year term and will submit one poem monthly that will be available on the town’s website.

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