The local arts organization Write On, Door County will bring U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to Door County for a program with students and a public reading on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at the Southern Door Community Auditorium in Brussels, WI. A goodwill donation by attendees is requested, but regardless, no one will be turned away from the door. Tracy K. Smith’s first-ever visit to Door County is being sponsored by Write On, Door County with support from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters.
Smith was appointed to a second term as the nation’s Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. During her first term, Smith gave readings and led discussions as part of a pilot project in rural communities in New Mexico, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Her reappointment will allow for long-term planning for an expanded rural poetry outreach project.
As part of her second term, Smith has edited an anthology titled American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, which will be published by Graywolf Press in September. The poems selected for this project offer 50 different viewpoints on America, including stories of loss, the experiences of immigrants, acts of injustice, and poems that evoke history and celebrate America’s diversity.
“Poetry invites us to listen to other voices, to make space for other perspectives, and to care about the lives of others who may not look, sound or think like ourselves,” Smith said. “My project as Poet Laureate has brought me into contact with rural communities in the South and Southwest, and not only do we recognize and have many things to say to each other, but talking about poems together allows us to access and share our feelings and bear witness to the experiences that shape our lives.”
Smith is the author of four books of poetry, includingWade in the Water, published by Graywolf in April of this year. Her collection Life On Marswas awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Previous collections include Duende, winner of the 2008 Essence Literary Award, and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award.
“We are thrilled to have a poet of Smith’s worldwide reputation visit our county, spend time talking with students in our schools, and engage our community in the power of poetry to bring us together and to remind us of all that we hold in common,” said Write On executive director Jerod Santek. The non-profit organization plans to provide bus transportation for people in the northern part of the county who might not otherwise be able to attend the event. “We recognize that many people in our area are reluctant to drive long distances, particularly at night and we don’t want transportation to be a barrier to anyone’s participation. In addition, we hope that the experience of 50-some people on a bus discussing what they have just heard and witness will underscore the Poet Laureate’s belief that talking about poetry is good for the soul of our community.”
The Poet Laureate of the United States position has existed since 1937 to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Both the state of Wisconsin and Door County also have Poet Laureate positions, with Karla Huston and Sharon Auberle, respectively, serving in those posts. Santek noted that past Door County and Wisconsin Poet Laureates have been invited to attend the reading. “We hope to assemble as many of our region’s Poet Laureates as possible to share the stage with our nation’s current Poet Laureate.”
For more information about the program, visit www.writeondoorcounty.org.
Write On, Door County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Write On conducts programs to inspire people to write and share their stories at various venues throughout Door County.