On September 13, Tracy K. Smith greeted a packed house in the Coolidge Auditorium for her inaugural reading as 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. “I remember when I was very young I started, but was never able to finish, a poem in which I was trying to imagine the afterlife as a library,” she said after Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden’s introduction. “There’s something ethereal that is born of the energy and the belief that builds places like this.”
Following in the footsteps of past Laureates, Smith took the audience on a chronological tour through her poetic work: She kicked off the evening’s reading with “A Hunger So Honed” from her first book, The Body’s Question, and ended with “An Old Story” from her forthcoming collection, Wade in the Water.
To open the festivities, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman read “In This Place (An American Lyric),” a poem she penned for the occasion. Please stay tuned for more from Amanda; she’ll be a monthly contributor to From the Catbird Seat for the rest of her laureateship this year.
You can watch this historic event on YouTube, or you can relive the evening in photos right here:
Thank you for the evening, hearing both Ms. Smith’s and Ms. Gorman’s poetry was inspiring. The contrast in style and age was amazing!