To say that it’s been a busy year for Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith would be an understatement. Just last month she concluded her second-term project, “American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities,” with a visit to southern Louisiana—her fourth state visit since August. We hope you’ve been following along on the blog and on the project’s website!
Of course, the project’s origins go further back than Tracy’s visit to rural Alaska in August. Last January, our laureate embarked on the first of three state pilot visits for “American Conversations”—to rural New Mexico—in an effort to find the most meaningful approaches to, as Tracy put it, “use poetry as a way of building a bridge between people in cities and university towns, where poetry festivals and reading series are quite common, and those in rural parts of the United States, where such programming doesn’t often reach.”
Today, we’re excited to launch “Making ‘American Conversations’: Part 1,” a podcast episode chronicling the poet laureate’s January 2018 visit to New Mexico.
On this episode, the first in a special three-part “Making ‘American Conversations’” series on our From the Catbird Seat podcast, you’ll hear reflections from Anya Creightney, programs manager of the Poetry and Literature Center, who traveled with Tracy to three locations in New Mexico last year—Cannon Air Force Base (outside Clovis), Santa Fe Indian School, and Santa Clara Pueblo. You’ll also hear from some of the folks that our laureate met along the way—Senior Airman Adam Christudoss, stationed at Cannon Air Force Base; and Ben Salazar, field representative for Eastern New Mexico under Senator Tom Udall.
To accompany this podcast episode, we’ve also added bonus content from the New Mexico trip to the “American Conversations” website.
To listen and subscribe to From the Catbird Seat, visit our podcast page, find it on iTunes, or tune in via your preferred podcast app—and stay tuned in the coming weeks for parts two and three of the podcast series, as we follow along with Tracy K. Smith’s spring 2018 pilot project trips to rural South Carolina and Kentucky!