Tom Kirby-Smith has donated a collection of modern poetry books and established the Noel and Tom Kirby-Smith Poetry Fund in the University Libraries at UNCG. UNCG Dean of Libraries Rosann Bazirjian says of the gift: “We are excited to receive this impressive collection. Our students and faculty will also appreciate the alcove space being planned on the third floor of the Jackson Library Tower to house it. That area will be a comfortable place to read and reflect on these volumes. We are especially grateful for an endowment that will allow us to continue to add to the collection and to preserve these valuable books of poetry.”
Noel Callow Kirby-Smith came to Greensboro in 1968 as one of the first Randall Jarrell fellows in UNCG's graduate Writing Program. A graduate of St Xavier College in Chicago, she had already published poems in The Sewanee Review and The Denver Quarterly written during the five years she taught reading and English in Chicago Catholic and public grade schools. Soon after taking her MFA she began teaching writing and literature at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she worked for more than three decades, for some years as Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate Academic program. Knowing that many plays, dances, films, operas and other musical compositions originate with or are inspired by poems, stories or short dramatic works, Noel valued the opportunity to offer creative writing courses to performing arts students.
Tom Kirby-Smith grew up in Sewanee, Tennessee. He received his B.A. from Sewanee, an M.A. from Harvard and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. He taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was one of the early editors of the Greensboro Review. He has published several books including a guide to U. S. observatories, a book on the philosopher George Santayana, a book that examines free verse poetry and one on the emergence of poetry from music. His poetry and essays have been published in The Southern Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Shenandoah, and Ploughshares, among other publications. Among his former students is Claudia Emerson, the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winner in poetry. His online poetry tutorials have been used widely by poetry teachers for almost a decade. Now retired from the UNCG faculty, Tom is the current chair of the Friends of the UNCG Libraries.