Happy Birthday, Tracy K. Smith, born 16 April 1972
- Once I started writing all the time and interacting with poets, I made a conscious decision to identify myself as a poet. It’s funny how much a single word can provide focus and direction.
- I am very conscious of the vulnerability of beginning writers. I push my students toward a more rigorous sense of craft and a more daring use of material and observation.
- A question is a pursuit, an invitation to envision and explore a series of possibilities, to struggle and empathize and doubt and believe. The question moves, whereas our sense of what an answer is can often be static, a stopping point.
- I see my responsibility to my material as a matter of writing toward the truth. And the truth is many different things at once — many different truths.
- For me, a poem is an opportunity to kind of interrogate myself a little bit.
- I think humans have always felt watched back by whatever is out there flickering in the distance. What excites me is what the imagination creates not simply in explanation of what is there, but also to explain or justify the feeling of awe and attachment that the heavens inspire. Sometimes those answers set beautiful things into motion: compassion, hope, a desire to create something that will last.
- I always encourage my students to seek analogies between their outside interests and their process as poets. Everything should make its way into the poems, because everything makes a mark upon the poet.
Tracy K. Smith is an African-American poet and educator. She won the Pulitzer Prize for a 2011 collection, Life on Mars. She is currently serving as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, an office she assumed in 2017. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University.
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