Behind the Scenes with Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith and Rob Casper record for the Poetry and Literature Center’s inaugural podcast series, From the Catbird Seat, in the Jefferson Building Recording Studio.

Tracy K. Smith is closing out a busy year in the catbird seat. During her first term as laureate, she visited rural communities in New Mexico, South Carolina, and Kentucky as part of a pilot project she plans to expand for next year; edited a new anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, which will be published in the fall; and set aside time for media interviews and profiles (including, most recently, this stunning feature in The New York Times Magazine).

Just a few weeks ago, Tracy returned to the Library of Congress to recap and reflect on her first year—and to start making plans for her second. Next Thursday, April 19, she’ll return to the Library once again to share some of these reflections and plans in a celebratory public event called “Staying Human: Poetry in the Age of Technology.” The evening will include a discussion with Washington Post Book World editor Ron Charles. You can still snag free tickets via Eventbrite.

During Tracy’s recent visit to D.C., we seized the opportunity to catch up with her in the Jefferson Building’s Recording Studio. She joined Rob Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center, for an hour-long conversation looking back on her whirlwind first term—from the auspicious day last spring when Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden called to offer her the laureate position, to Tracy’s inaugural reading in September, to now, just days before her first-term closing event—and ahead to her second term.

Today, in anticipation of Tracy K. Smith’s upcoming celebration, we’re thrilled to share a piece of that behind-the-scenes conversation with you. In the streaming audio below, our laureate offers a sneak peek at the days and months to come.

If this clip leaves you hungry for more, well, here’s some extra good news for National Poetry Month: 22nd Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will be the first guest on our inaugural podcast series, From the Catbird Seat, coming to your ears on April 26. Mark your calendars and stay tuned.

Read the audio transcript.


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