New U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to Visit Penn State
The new United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will give the 2017 Emily Dickinson Lecture at Penn State this fall at the Nittany Lion Inn Oct. 19.
The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry at Penn State is an annual public lecture in the College of the Liberal Arts that is made possible through donations from Penn State alumni George and Barbara Kelly and have brought in the likes of Marilyn Nelson and Juan Herrera.
Smith is the twenty-second poet to assume the position and realizes the impact that comes with it. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to take what I consider to be the good news of poetry to parts of the country where literary festivals don’t always go,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. “Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.”
Smith was chosen as the new poet laureate in June and has published three collections of poetry. Her critically acclaimed work has earned numerous awards, most notably the Pulitzer Prize for her “Life on Mars” collection. Smith was educated at tops schools such as Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford University, where she studied poetry and creative writing.
Since 1937, the United States Congress has appointed a “Poet Laureate Consultant in the Poetry to the Library of Congress,” often known as the United States Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate is selected typically in June and serves from October to May.
The yearly appointment, selected by the Librarian of the United States Congress with consultation from former appointees, serves to raise the country’s interest and appreciation in the reading and writing of poetry. The poet laureate is tasked with giving an annual lecture and often reads poetry around the country, but the duties of the position are light, to afford the poet laureate ample time to focus on their own work.
Penn State also has a position similar to Poet Laureate at the university, open to full-time faculty members. The year-long laureate appointment is a poet laureate, humanities laureate, or fine arts laureate. Penn State laureates appear at university events around the Commonwealth and “bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic, and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences.” Andrew Belser, a professor of movement, voice, and acting, and director of the Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI), is Penn State’s 2017-2018 Laureate. Belser will spend the year touring with the multimedia video “FaceAge” exhibition throughout Pennsylvania.
The 2017 Emily Dickinson Lecture is free and open to the public. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Assembly Room of The Nittany Lion Inn.