A Glimpse at “Superhero” Poet, Tracy K. Smith

The author’s festival welcomed Tracy K. Smith, decorated poet, and Pulitzer Prize winner, to SVHS’s student day on Friday, August 26th. Students from the AP and Honors English classes walked down to the pavilion to watch and listen to the presentation of the former Poet Laureate.

During Smith’s presentation, she revealed her process of developing, writing, and revising her poems. She noted that words create feelings, and in her poetry, she channels emotions such as “grief [and] sorrow.” She uses unsettling events to portray these emotions, making her poems meaningful to societal occurrences. Smith also noted that she learns a lot from photography.

Standing tall and confident, she read her poems with a passionate, soothing voice, differing from her normal voice. She shifted from talking to the audience in a cheery spontaneous manner with eye contact to reciting poetry full of emotion. 

Smith describes her poem writing as to be her “superpower” and that is channeled in her talk when she puts on her glasses that illuminate a soft blue glow. She explains that poetry makes her feel more empowered and will “[wait] out boredom.” Mentioning the different methods of starting one of her new poems, she revealed that she will “respond” or derive ideas from another poet’s poem. She even may state a question in her head to discuss, either current or past, using her observations from the real world. 

The author of Such Color: New and Selected Poems revises her poetry by listening to the logic of her words, the sound, and the images it creates. 

While answering the student’s questions, Smith mentioned one of her most difficult poems to write, “The United States Welcomes You.” The poem portrayed the challenges to black culture, as well as a demonstration of the oppressive past of America. Additionally, she mentioned that memories like these leave an impact on today’s society, and resurface often.

Smith’s presentation was exceptionally meaningful to Mrs. Manchester’s senior class, as they have been analyzing her poem throughout the beginning of the year, yet the event was an excitement to all.