Tracy K. Smith

Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute

Monday, December 12, 2016, 7:30 pm
Folger Theatre

Co-sponsored with the Poetry Society of America

“The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.”                                                                                                                                  —Toi Derricotte

Tracy K. Smith has created verse that probes the universe, both interplanetary and inside ourselves. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction and selected as a Notable Book by the New York Times and Washington Post. Her most recent collection of poems, Life on Mars, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was also a New York Times Notable Book. She is currently the director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Dr. David DeVorkin, Senior Curator of Astronomy for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, joins Smith to talk about astronomy from a 19-th century perspective.

At the reception following the reading, Emily Dickinson’s black cake is provided by The Suga Chef.

From Don't You Wonder, Sometimes?

After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being—a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure
That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? 

Tracy K. Smith, "Don't You Wonder, Sometimes?" from Life on Mars. Copyright © 2011 by Tracy K. Smith. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.