In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. We are proud to invite you to a reading with the U.S. Poet Laureate.
These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith’s signature voice—inquisitive, lyrical, and wry—turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of the Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors’ reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America’s essential poets.
Tracy K. Smith is the author of three previous books of poetry: The Body’s Question; Duende; and Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was named a finalist for the National Book Award. In 2017, Smith was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. She is Professor of the Humanities and Director and Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University.
Co-sponsored by Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts