A New Poem by Tracy K. Smith

Celebrating This Year's PEN World Voices Festival

May 13, 2022  By Tracy K. Smith

Image © 2022 Dawoud Bey

after Dawoud Bey

We stand square in its frame,
revealed and claimed.

On every side: our fathers, sisters,
our very mothers

doing what’s been done
to everyone.

It is a plot,
a garden lot.

Row upon row,
we are what grows

through storm,
past fruit, seed, wind, bird.

Grief, strife: all endures.
The crop of us blown farther

than our known roots
and our knowing better.


Tracy K. Smith is a featured participant in the 2022 PEN World Voices Festival event “Ghostwriting: When Ancestors Speak.” For more information about the festival, which takes place May 11-14 in New York and Los Angeles, please visit worldvoices.pen.org.


 Copyright © 2022 by Tracy K. Smith.

Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, memoirist, editor, translator and librettist. She served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-2019. Smith is the author of four poetry collections: Such Color: New and Selected Poems; Wade in the Water, which was awarded the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and The Body’s Question, which received the 2003 Cave Canem Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction. She is the co-translator (with Changtai Bi) of My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems of Yi Lei, which was a finalist for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.

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