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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 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.

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 for KCET|Artbound.