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OCU Hosts Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet

Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy K. Smith will give presentations at Oklahoma City University April 2 as part of the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series.

Smith will lead the Connecting Through Poetry workshop from 10 to 11:30 a.m. before her reading presentation at 8 p.m. There will be an open mic session from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. All events will be in the Kerr McGee Auditorium in Meinders School of Business on N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue.

Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, “Life on Mars” (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie, and is in part an elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope. “Duende” (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. “The Body's Question” (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005.

Smith’s poems embody the lyrical, rhythmic quality of masters such as Lorca. At times political, whimsical and always meditative, they speak largely to the role of art and to the conception of what it means to be American, dealing with the “evolution and decline of the culture we belong to.” Her work also explores the dichotomy between the ordered world and the irrationality of the self, the importance of submitting oneself willingly to the “ongoing conflict” of life and surviving nonetheless. For Smith, in her own words, poetry is a way of “stepping into the mess of experience.”

After her undergraduate work at Harvard, Smith earned her MFA at Columbia before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997 to 1999. She currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University, and has also taught at Columbia, City University of New York and the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Brooklyn.

The presentation at OCU was made possible in part through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

Smith will sign copies of her books following the workshop and the reading. Full Circle Bookstore will sell books on site during the events.

For more information visit the website at, or contact Harbour Winn at (405) 208-5472 or

Tracy K. Smith