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Q&A: April 2019 Poem-a-Day Guest Editor Tracy K. Smith


April 01, 2019


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The Academy of American Poets invited twelve new guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2019. In this short Q&A, U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, the Poem-a-Day guest editor for April 2019, discusses her curating approach and her own creative work.

Poets.org: How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day for April?

Tracy K. Smith: I took curating April as an opportunity to reach out to a number of poets whom I admire, some of whom had never before been featured in Poem-a-Day. What delights me is that, even across a range of voices, there are shared themes and concerns. I think poets are busy processing the questions and anxieties arising from our current moment, and American poetry is enriched by that willingness to dig in. 

Poets.org: If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at Poets.org that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

TKS: John Keene's poem "Words,"  selected by Dawn Lundy Martin for February 2018, calls powerful attention to the ways words have been leveraged in our political climate. It calls out our ulterior motives, dog whistle tactics, and open prejudices. And it also powerfully re-animates my sense of poetry as a tool for social awakening and change

Poets.org: What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

TKS: Too many things! But one project I've managed to make progress on during a busy time is the libretto for the opera "Castor and Patience," which will premiere in Cincinnati in 2020. It's a collaboration with composer Gregory Spears, and it contemplates the legacy of black property ownership and the racial wealth gap in America.

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