Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Prestigious poet to visit Smith College

By Margaret Gaby

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The Smith College program for the Study of Women and Gender will hold a poetry reading tonight, recognizing the youth of New England’s excellence in the art of poetry.

Tracy K. Smith, who helped judge the 4th annual Smith College Poetry Contest for high school students in New England, will be a visiting guest. The four winners of this contest will be reciting their poetry alongside the prestigious writer.

Smith is an African-American writer who received a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University, and is presently an assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

She has published two prize-winning collections of poems. These include her first book, “The Body’s Question,” which won the Cave Canem Prize, and her second book, “Duende,” which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Smith’s poems deal with grief and loss, as well as historical interrelations with race and family and the transition between childhood and adulthood. She has been described as “a voice that can weave beauty and terror into one breath” by fellow American poet Yusef Komunyakaa. Literary artist Joy Harjo calls her work “a true merging of the ancient roots of poetry with the language of an age of a different kind of sense.”

She won the Whiting Writers’ Award in 2005 for poetry, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. The 38-year-old has also appeared in many journals such as the New Yorker, Post Road, Boulevard, Callaloo, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, the Gulf Coast, West Branch and the Nebraska Review.

First place winner of the Smith College Poetry contest, Haeyeon Cho, a student at Milton Academy will be reciting her poem, The Soup Kitchen will be at tonight’s reading, along with the contest’s three finalists – Samantha Ardoin of Phillips Exeter Academy will read “No Meaning Intended”; Elizabeth Bennett of Milton Academy will recite “Race Days” and Carly Mclver from Marblehead High School will read “In Which a Past Shows Visions of the Future and the Mallard Duck Regrets His Choice of Living Quarters”.

The event, which will be held tonight at 7:30 in the Smith College Poetry Center. The reading is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book signing.

For more information from the Smith College Poetry Center visit http://www.smith.edu/poetrycenter.

Margaret Gaby can be reached at [email protected]

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