Fall Semester


Tuesday September 30
Stoddard Hall Auditorium
7:30 PM


  Spencer Reece   Spencer Reece

SPENCER REECE’s poems have been described as “subtle, atmospheric and lucent,” echoing the works of Bishop and James Merrill. His first collection, The Clerk’s Tale, was selected by Louise Glück to win the 2003 Bakeless Poetry Prize. In her introduction, Glück praises the tone of the poems, “so supple, so deft, so capable of simultaneous refinements and ironies as to seem not a tone, not an effect of art, but the truth.”  A long-time Brooks Brothers employee, Reece’s work is filled with gentle humor, isolating sorrow, and a keen alertness to the characters that inhabit the Mall of America, which he compares to a gothic cathedral. Currently, he is studying for the priesthood at Yale Divinity School.





Tuesday October 21
Poetry Center, Wright Hall
7:30 PM




  Arvind Mehrotra


  Arvind Mehrotra

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra was born in Lahore and educated at the universities of Allahabad and Bombay. The journal Fulcrum has said that his poems are “coded messages from the unconscious, but [that] there is an exceedingly conscious hand that crafts them.” A History of Indian Literature in English, which he edited, was awarded the Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Title of the Year. Translator from the Prakrit, and author of four collections of poems, including, most recently The Transfiguring Places, Mehrotra is Professor of English and Chair of the Department at the University of Allahabad.  His visit to Smith is sponsored by the departments of Philosophy, English, and Comparative Literature.


Presented by the departments of Philosophy, English, and Comparative Literature





Tuesday October 28
Stoddard Hall Auditorium
7:30 PM


  Tracy K. Smith
  Tracy K. Smith

*POSTPONED: Due to circumstances beyond her control, Ms. Smith was unable to come to Smith College on this date. Her reading has been postponed to Spring 2010.*

Tracy K. Smith ’s poems treat grief and loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood, prompting Yusef Komunyakaa to write, “Here’s a voice that can weave beauty and terror into one breath.” Joy Harjo has called her work “a true merging of the ancient roots of poetry with the language of an age of a different kind of sense.” Author of two collections, The Body’s Question (Graywolf Press 2003) and Duende (Graywolf Press 2007), and recipient of many honors, including a Whiting Writers Award and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, Smith teaches creative writing at Princeton.

[Reading postoned until Spring 2010]

Supported by the Program for the Study of Women and Gender




Poetry Center, Wright Hall
12:00 PM


  Jacqueline Osherow   Jacqueline Osherow

Jacqueline Osherow’s work explores “Jewishness,” often in difficult verse forms (sestinas, sonnets, terza rima), often with humor and an intimate tone. Some of her best known poems address her post-Holocaust consciousness. For my generation," she says, "those born in the aftermath of the war—the horror...defined the world to us. It is as a testament to this predicament that I wish these poems to stand." Author of five books of poems, most recently The Hoopoe’s Crown, Osherow has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill Foundations, among other prizes and awards. She is Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. 


Presented by the Program in Jewish Studies and the Office of the Jewish Chaplain




Tuesday December 2
Stoddard Hall Auditorium
7:30 PM


  Mark Strand   Mark Strand

Former US Poet Laureate Mark Strand is the author of eleven books of poems, including Blizzard of One, which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1999. “To read Strand from his first book through the present,” notes Poetry magazine, “is to see a single course pursued with exquisite precision.” Booklist proclaimed him “a fabulist and a surrealist in the manner of Borges and Calvino, [who] writes spare, melancholy, and haunting poems.” Recipient of many distinguished honors, including a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, Strand is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.





      Spring Semester

Tuesday February10
Neilson Browsing Room
7:30 PM


  Gwyneth Lewis   Gwyneth Lewis

Wales’s first National Poet and author of six books, Gwyneth Lewis writes in both Welsh, her first language, and in English. She has also written libretti and directed documentaries for the BBC. Joseph Brodsky called her poems “felicitous, urbane, heartbreaking.”  She weaves such subjects as marriage, depression, outer space, and detective work into a fable of self that is both challenging and accessible, and her wit and intellect are everywhere present.

Presented by the Department of English Language & Literature





Tuesday February24
Stoddard Hall Auditorium
7:30 PM




  Marianne Boruch


  Marianne Boruch

Distinguished professor of English at Purdue, author of seven books of award-winning poetry and two books of essays, Marianne Boruch writes surprising and engaging poetry that is intimate, often humorous, but never afraid of the darker components of human experience. She explores the world around her with curiosity and searching skepticism.  David Young writes that "Her poems eschew the need for stylistic eccentricity or surface mannerisms.  They are contained, steady, and exceptionally precise.  They build toward blazing insights with the utmost honesty and care."

Marianne Boruch’s week-long residency at Smith, featuring workshops, individual student conferences, and a craft lecture Thursday, February 26, is supported by a gift from Tammis Day (05).





Tuesday March 10
Poetry Center, Wright Hall
7:30 PM


  Sujane Wu
Chinese Poetry in Performance

An evening of classical Chinese poems recited and chanted in Chinese by Sujane Wu, with English translations. For centuries, Chinese people have entrusted their most profound and heartfelt utterances to poetry, the form that has come to be recognized as characteristic of the Chinese literary spirit at its greatest. Wu will present poems that treat the theme and circumstance of solitude from a range of dynasties and styles, with remarks on musical interpretation as well as on multiple translations. A scholar and Smith faculty member, she has been studying, performing, and writing extensively on Classical Chinese poetry for two decades.

Presented by East Asian Languages & Literatures and East Asian Studies




Monday March 23
Carroll Room, Campus Center
4:30 PM


  Poems of Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973)

A celebration of the opening of an an exhibition on the anti-war writings of the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann, featuring the poet's brother, Dr. Heinz Bachmann, as well as a reading (in both German and English) of her poetry by award-winning translator Peter Filkins.

Presented by the German Studies Department





Tuesday March 31
Stoddard Hall Auditorium
7:30 PM


  Aracelis Girmay   Aracelis Girmay

The poetry of Aracelis Girmay is “so strong, so brave, so lyrical, so fiery, so joyful,” writes Martín Espada, “that the usual superlatives fail.”  In her debut collection of poems, Teeth, she draws from her various cultural lineages (Eritrean, Puerto Rican and African American), weaving them into a distinct political voice. Hers is a poetry of resistance and survival, unafraid of such subjects as rape, genocide, and love. Girmay also writes fiction and nonfiction and works as a writer in the schools.

Supported by the Program for the Study of Women and Gender



Tuesday April 21
Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall
7:30 PM


  Paul Muldoon   Paul Muldoon
and High School Prize Winners

Playwright, essayist, translator, librettist, children's book author, teacher, musician, and, foremost, poet, Paul Muldoon has won many distinguished awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Born and raised in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in a house without books, he has lived in the U.S. for over twenty years . Generally regarded as the leading Irish poet of his generation, Muldoon is legendary for his sidelong wit, formal ingenuity, and linguistic exuberance.  Poetry editor of The New Yorker, he teaches at Princeton. He is the judge for the 09 Smith College Poetry Prize for High School Girls in Massachusetts.

Supported by the Lecture Committee
  Events   Bookselling and signing follow the readings.

Books provided by Broadside Bookshop, which generously donates a portion of the profits to our program.

Videos of many readings are available for viewing in the Neilson Library.

Fall 2010 - Spring 2011
Fall 2009 - Spring 2010
Fall 2008 - Spring 2009
Fall 2007 - Spring 2008
Fall 2006 - Spring 2007
Fall 2005 - Spring 2006
Fall 2004 - Spring 2005
Fall 2003 - Spring 2004
Fall 2002 - Spring 2003
Fall 2001 - Spring 2002
Fall 2000 - Spring 2001
Fall 1999 - Spring 2000
Fall 1998 - Spring 1999
Fall 1997 - Spring 1998

Marianne Boruch Paul Muldoon Gwyneth Lewis Sujane Wu Aracelis Girmay Smith College