Award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith receives S. Mariella Gable, OSB Prize from CSB and presents readi

Bookmark and Share

October 8, 2007

Award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith presents a reading at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Alumnae Hall, College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph.

She also presents a reading at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis.

Both readings are free and open to the public.

Smith will be a poet-in-residence Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. During that time, she’ll work with students and faculty.

Her latest collection of poems, Duende, was chosen as the 2007-08 recipient of the S. Mariella Gable, OSB Prize by the Literary Arts Institute (LAI) at CSB, and the English department at CSB/SJU. S. Mariella was a Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer and champion of new fiction who taught at CSB from 1928-73.

Past winners of the award have included African author Nurruddin Farah (2006), Jane Kenyon (2005), Clint McCown (2004), Joe Coomer (2003), Judith Kitchen (2002) and Victoria Redel (2001). The award is given for an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press, St. Paul. Graywolf Press and the LAI have formed a collaboration to explore new ways of promoting the literary arts on campus, to audiences in the surrounding area and in the Twin Cities.

Smith is the winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets for Duende. The award is given annually to recognize and support a poet’s second book, and is the only second-book award for poetry in the United States.

Duende explores history and intersections of folk traditions, political resistance and personal survival. It gives passionate testament to suppressed cultures.

“(Smith’s) lyric brilliance and political impulses never falter under the considerable weight of her subject matter,” said Publishers Weekly in a review of the book.

Her first book of poetry was The Body’s Question, published in 2003. Smith received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize by Kevin Young; the 2004 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award; and a 2005 Whiting Writers’ Award.

Smith, who was raised in northern California, received degrees in English and creative writing from Harvard College and Columbia University. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 1997-99. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

The LAI, which sponsors her residency, fosters creative writing, publishing and interaction between students and writers. The LAI, founded in 1997, brings nationally recognized authors to the college, promotes literary events, holds conferences, supports publications and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress. With its local and national partners, such as Graywolf Press, the LAI is able to bring writers and their work together with readers on campus, in Minnesota and beyond.

Smith’s residency is also sponsored in part by the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation. Her appearance Oct. 30 at CSB is the Warner Reading.