Tracy K. Smith

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Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith006.JPG
Smith in October 2012
Born (1972-04-16) April 16, 1972 (age 42)
Occupation Poet, educator
Nationality American
Genre Poetry
Notable awards James Laughlin Award (2006)
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (2012)

Tracy K. Smith (born April 16, 1972) is an African-American poet and educator.[1] She has published three collections of poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize for a 2011 collection, Life on Mars.[2][3] About this collection, Joel Brouwer wrote in 2011: "Smith shows herself to be a poet of extraordinary range and ambition. ... As all the best poetry does, Life on Mars first sends us out into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then returns us to ourselves, both changed and consoled."[4]

Life and career[edit]

Smith is a native of Falmouth, Massachusetts.[1] She was raised in northern California in a family with "deep roots" in Alabama. She received her B.A. from Harvard University in 1994, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 1997. From 1997 to 1999 she was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. She has taught at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. In 2005 she joined the faculty of Princeton University, where she is professor of creative writing.[5][6]

In his review of Life on Mars, Troy Jollimore selects Smith's poem "My god, it's full of stars" as particularly strong, "making use of images from science and science fiction to articulate human desire and grief, as the speaker allows herself to imagine the universe:"[3]

... sealed tight, so nothing escapes. Not even time,
Which should curl in on itself and loop around like smoke.
So that I might be sitting now beside my father
As he raises a lit match to the bowl of his pipe
For the first time in the winter of 1959.

In his review of the collection, Joel Brouwer also quoted at length from this poem, writing that "for Smith the abyss seems as much a space of possibility as of oblivion:"[4]

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,
That the others have come and gone — a momentary blip —
When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,
Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel
Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,
...

Dan Chiasson writes of another aspect of the collection, "The issues of power and paternalism suggest the deep ways in which this is a book about race. Smith’s deadpan title is itself racially freighted: we can’t think about one set of fifties images, of Martians and sci-fi comics, without conjuring another, of black kids in the segregated South. Those two image files are situated uncannily close to each other in the cultural cortex, but it took this book to connect them."[7]

Smith lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Raphael Allison, and their daughter.[8]

Books[edit]

Contributor[edit]

  • Poems, Poets, Poetry
  • Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook
  • State of the Union: 50 Political Poems
  • When She Named Fire
  • Efforts and Affection: Women Poets on Mentorship
  • The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets
  • Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century
  • The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry
  • Gathering Ground : A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade
  • Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website
  • Poetry 30: Thirty-Something Thirty-Something American Poets
  • H.L. Hix, ed. (2008). New Voices: Contemporary Poetry from the United States. Irish Pages. ISBN 978-0-9544257-9-1. 

Awards, grants, fellowships[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tracy K. Smith". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Poetry". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-04-23.  With short biography and publisher's description.
  3. ^ a b Jollimore, Troy (April 17, 2012). "Book World: Tracy K. Smith’s 2012 Pulitzer-winning poems are worth a read". The Washington Post. 
  4. ^ a b Brouwer, Joel (August 26, 2011). "Poems of Childhood, Grief and Deep Space". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Saxon, Jamie (April 16, 2012). "UPDATE: Princeton's Tracy K. Smith wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry". Princeton University. 
  6. ^ a b "Tracy K. Smith Web site". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. 
  7. ^ Chiasson, Dan (August 8, 2011). "Other Worlds: New poems by Tracy K. Smith and Dana Levin". The New Yorker: 71–73.  Review of Life on Mars. Chiasson notes that "... it's fitting that to write about the Space Age Smith turns to forms that predate the modern world (including a terrific example of the villanelle, that old troubadour invention, about the euthanizing of geese at J.F.K. Airport)." The villanelle is "Solstice".
  8. ^ "Bios of 2005 Whiting Writers' Award Recipients". Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 
  9. ^ "James Laughlin Award". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  10. ^ "ESSENCE's Literary Awards Winners". Essence Magazine. February 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ Dodd, Philip. "A Meeting of Minds". Cycle 5. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Seven Poets Guest-Edited by Tracy K. Smith". Guernica Magazine. October 15, 2007. 
  • "Fiction review: Duende". Publishers Weekly. May 21, 2007. "Federico García Lorca famously described duende in relation to flamenco music, but understood it as the dark wellspring for any artistic endeavor. As interpreted by Smith in her Laughlin Award–winning second collection, duende is the unforgiving place where the soul confronts emotion, acknowledges death and finds poetry."  Starred review of Smith's second collection.

External links[edit]

Online poetry[edit]

Bibliography[edit]