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Festival of Ideas

Eternity: Poetry and Politics Tracy K Smith

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Tracy K Smith served as America’s 22nd poet laureate.

Her work – from The Body’s Question (2003) to Wade in the Water (2018) – addresses what it means to be a citizen, a mother and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men and violence. In this event, she reads from her latest collection, Eternity, and discusses poetry and politics.

Writing in the New York Times in December 2018, Smith argued that political poetry, ‘even here in America, has done much more than vent. It has become a means of owning up to the complexity of our problems, of accepting the likelihood that even we the righteous might be implicated by or complicit in some facet of the very wrongs we decry. Poems willing to enter into this fraught space don’t merely stand on the bank calling out instructions on how or what to believe; they take us by the arm and walk us into the lake, wetting us with the muddied and the muddled, and sometimes even the holy.’

Chaired by Sarah LeFanu.

This event was part of the Festival of Ideas annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Image credit: Eliza Griffiths.

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