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Ordinary Light: A Memoir

Tracy K. Smith
In conversation with Lynell George
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Episode Summary

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet discusses her new memoir, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, that explores the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, religion, and unbreakable bonds. With lyrical precision and a tender intelligence, Smith delves into the life and death of her mother.  Smith struggles to understand her mother’s steadfast Christian faith, ultimately discovering her own prayer-like solace in poetry. Lynell George, whose own body of work includes reflections about place, family, and her mother, leads an intimate conversation with Smith about the extraordinary journey of a daughter.

*Click here to see photos from the event! 

Participant(s) Bio

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry: The Body's Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award; and most recently, Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Other honors include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, a Whiting Writers' Award, and an Academy of American Poets Fellowship. A Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University, she lives in Princeton with her family.


Lynell George is an L.A.-based journalist and essayist who covers art, culture, social issues and identity politics. Formerly a longtime staff writer at both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, her work has also appeared in Vibe, Essence, The Smithsonian, Black Clock and Boom: A Journal of California. George has taught journalism at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and is currently an art and culture columnist forKCET|Artbound.