Tracy K. Smith: How Poetic Vocabulary Helps Us
In Conversation with Paul Holdengräber on The Quarantine Tapes
Hosted by Paul Holdengräber, The Quarantine Tapes chronicles shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. Each day, Paul calls a guest for a brief discussion about how they are experiencing the global pandemic.
In Episode 188 of The Quarantine Tapes, Paul Holdengräber is joined by author Tracy K. Smith. In this conversation, Paul and Tracy discuss the intensity of this moment in history, and explore the precision and power of poetry. Tracy describes the necessity for working together to develop a new vocabulary, and shares her thoughts about the essential role poetry plays in saving the soul of America.
Tracy reads her poem “We Feel Now a Largeness Coming On“, and the pair unpack ideas about reanimating imagination and conquering fear. In advance of publishing, Tracy then shares part of a poem called “Benediction” by Joshua Bennett, chosen from There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love, edited by Tracy and John Freeman. Paul and Tracy elaborate about the multiplicity of possibility that imagination provides, and how poetic vocabulary helps us all to reclaim joy in these calamitous times.
From the episode:
Tracy: I am someone who has been eager to bring the vocabulary of justice and anti-racism into the different contexts that I inhabit, and one of them is the campus where I teach and where I feel fortunate to serve students who have a lot of wishes and needs. I think it’s been a year of working together with others to see how far we’re willing to go with this goal. But, as you may know, we’re not all on the same page, and it’s been painful to be reminded of that.
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