Tracy K. Smith to give poetry reading at Woldenberg Art Center

SC Ogorek, Staff Reporter

Poet Tracy K. Smith will perform a live reading 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Woldenberg Art Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The Newcomb College Institute hosts Smith as a part of the Florie Gale Arons Program, a program Gale’s daughters started in dedication to their poetry-loving mother. The program brings female poets to campus for live readings and workshops. Smith is the 16th Arons Poet. Though she is young, Smith has published three poetry collections, and her most recent, “Life on Mars,” won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Peter Cooley, an English Professor at Tulane University, said he struggles to define Smith’s work. 

“I find that her poems are impossible to classify,” Cooley said. “She’s kind of a post-confessional poet — she deals with world issues and personal issues, science, environment and nature. She’s very hard to pin down into one single category.”

As an author of nine books of poetry himself, Cooley is an advocate of the art.

“Poetry offers the intimacy of words,” he said. “Nowadays, everything is at our fingertips. I’m just as involved as everyone else. My wife says that I’m addicted to Facebook. We have to turn it off sometimes, though, and pay close attention in order to rescue language and rescue imagination.”

Laura Wolford, assistant director for administration and programs for Newcomb College Institute, said she sought to bring Smith to campus because of her thought-provoking poetry and stature as a strong woman. Wolford’s work with Newcomb Institute focuses on educating undergraduate women.

“We live in a society where we continue to face gender disparities in almost every avenue,” Wolford said. “Just look at statistics about women writers and which women writers get reviewed and which women writers get published.”

Wolford urges Tulane students to take advantage of the opportunity to attend the reading.

“Something really special and interesting happens when you hear a poet read his or her work out loud in person,” Wolford explains. “It’s very different from reading that work on paper … People might have a different interaction with the poems hearing the poet read them than they would reading them alone in the library.”