Tracy K Smith: Poetry that feels familiar, and also brand new


The fourth and final installment of the James and Marilou Kelly Writers Series brings something different, personal, and profound to the DePauw campus in an event students, faculty, and community members won’t want to miss. For this final event on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., the Kelly Writers Series will host current U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Tracy K. Smith in Moore Auditorium.

Smith’s visit to campus was made possible by Professor Joseph Heithaus, Indiana Humanities, the Indianapolis Public Library, and Brick Street Poetry.

Heithaus describes Smith’s work as “audacious, ambitious, and above all, readable.”  Her commendations include the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, The James Laughlin Award, and the Essence Literary Award. She was also a finalist in 2015 for the National Book Award in nonfiction.People want to hear what Smith has to say because, Heithaus says, “her work is personal, but it’s also political.”

Keira Amstutz, president of Indiana Humanities, said, “We are inspired by her passion and mission to help spread the word that poetry is for anyone.”

Smith’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poetry, “Life on Mars,” is marked by its unique blend of art and science and includes many poems about outer space, but contains multitudes beyond that.  Amstutz called her work “relatable and fun as well as serious and important.” Smith writes about science, her life, political issues, race, and being a black woman in America. Professor Heithaus said, “She writes for us.”

Smith’s reading at DePauw is part of a three-leg stint in Indiana. Smith will read from “Life on Mars,” followed by a discussion with Professor Heithaus. Afterward, there will be  an opportunity for audience members to ask her questions directly.