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Patricia Smith

Visiting Poet

Patricia Smith

Mandana Chaffa praises Patricia Smith’s most recent collection Unshuttered (2023, TriQuarterly) as an “act of revivification, providing voice for those who might have otherwise been erased from history,” as Smith writes into Black consciousness via 19th century photographs of Black men, women, and children, “unreeling history to find its fierce and formidable lyric.” With sharp lyricism and bold tone suspended in dramatic monologues, Smith’s work transforms text and image into a multimedia force investigating ideas of gaze and inner life, writing, “We ache for fiction etched in black and white. Our eyes never touch. These tragic grays and bustles, mourners’ hats plopped high upon our tamed but tangled crowns, strain to disguise what yearning does with us.”

Author of of eight critically acclaimed books of poetry, Smith’s poetic career spans across decades and genre, and she is a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, and has received the 2024 Fuller Award, the 2023 Aiken Taylor Award, the 2021 Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement, among many others. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, Smith is a professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a former Distinguished Professor for the City University of New York, an Academy of American Poets Chancellor and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About Patricia

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Poetry Center Reading Dates: February 2024, October 2011