AIF Blog

On the Podcast: US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

Feb 14, 2018

US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reads her poetry at Winter Words, an event held by the Institute's literary program Aspen Words. (photo: Nick Tininenko)


Last year the US Library of Congress named Tracy K. Smith as the country's Poet Laureate. She follows in the footsteps of notables who have held the position like Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Juan Felipe Herrera. In January, she read her poetry and talked about her creative process at Winter Words. It's an annual event held by Aspen Words, a literary program of the Aspen Institute. Smith is the author of three books of poetry and the memoir Ordinary Light. Her latest book, Wade in the Water, is due out in April. In it, she looks back at moments in history where the human race failed to choose compassion. She wonders what it would take to love others in a truly generous way. “Love is the animating force of the universe and compassion is what we’re here to embody," she says, "That’s been a really consoling mantra to have at the back of the mind in an age when that’s the opposite of what we hear most of the time.”

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"Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.