Oklahoma City University | Tracy K. Smith | 2014 Featured Poet Skip to content

Tracy K. Smith | 2014 Featured Poet


Poet will be on campus for Workshop/Poetry Reading on Wednesday, April 02, 2014.

One of the most compelling voices in American poetry, Tracy K. Smith won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her most recent collection Life on Mars. 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. With allusions to Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself as among the best poets of her generation.

She has also published two other books of poetry: Duende(2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award; and The Body's Question (2003), winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was also 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.

Join us for one of our country’s most talented poets and one of its most eloquent communicators. Smith will be on campus to read some of her poems, talk about her writing process, and respond to questions at a 10:00 AM session on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. She will read her poetry at an 8:00 PM session. Both events will be on the campus of Oklahoma City University. Both sessions are also free and open to the public for those who arrive first. Full Circle Bookstore will be at the events selling Smith’s books, and she will sign books after both sessions. An Open-Mic Poetry Reading will be held from 6:15 PM to 7:30 PM. All events will take place in the Kerr McGee Auditorium of the Meinders School of Business, between N. Blackwelder and N. McKinley.

Please plan to be at Oklahoma City University for the Fifteenth Annual Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series on April 2, 2014: Conversations with Tracy K. Smith. The Center for Interpersonal Studies will collaborate with the Petree College of Arts and Sciences, the OCU English Department, The Oklahoma Humanities Council, the Oklahoma Arts Institute and Full Circle Bookstore, and other groups to make these events possible.

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