Official State Poem of Tennessee
Tennessee adopted "Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee" by Admiral William Porter Lawrence (a native of Nashville, TN) as the official state poem in 1973. Naval Admiral William Lawrence composed this poem while enduring a 60 day period of solitary confinement in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. Lawrence spent a total of six years as a POW during the Vietnam War:
Tennessee Poets Laureate & Ambassador of Letters
TENNESSEE POET LAUREATE. Margaret (Maggi) Britton Vaughn was designated as Tennessee’s Poet Laureate for the term of her natural life in 1999. Maggi is a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She is known for her first critically acclaimed book Fifty Years of Saturday Nights, and other works including Grand Ole Saturday Night, The Light in the Kitchen Window, and the play I Wonder If Eleanor Roosevelt Ever Made a Quilt. Tennessee also adopted her poem Who Are We as the state's bicentennial poem in 1997. The previous and first Laureate was Richard M. "Pek" Gunn (1971 -1994) - author of The Tennessee Salute, adopted by Tennessee in 1975 as a bicentennial march song.
TENNESSEE AMBASSADOR OF LETTERS. Harriette Louise Bias Allen, former Director of Forensics in the Department of Dramatics and Speech at Fisk University, was named Tennessee’s Ambassador of Letters in 1977. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Ms. Allen is widely recognized as a poet, storyteller, and oral interpreter.
TENNESSEE COWBOY POET LAUREATE. The Tennessee General Assembly designated David 'Buffalo Bill' Nelson as the official "Cowboy Poet Laureate of Tennessee" in 2004.
POET LAUREATE OF CHRISTIAN COUNTRY MUSIC IN TENNESSEE. Colonel Hugh X. Lewis of Nashville was designated as the Poet Laureate of Christian Country Music in Tennessee 2006. Colonel Lewis was described in the legislation as “an inspirational poet and one of the most distinguished singer-songwriters in the nation.” An award-winning country music songwriter and exciting performer, Lewis has penned more than 250 country and Christian country songs in his 50-year career that have been recorded by such artists as Grand Ole Opry stars Charlie Pride, Little Jimmy Dickens, Del Reeves, Jim Ed Brown, Stonewall Jackson, Carl Smith, and Kitty Wells.