Say amen. Say amend.
Say yes. Say yes
pppppppppppp—OCEAN VUONG


Tuesday, February 20, 2018
7:30 pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall

MEREDITH NNOKA’s chapbook, A Hunger Called Music (C&R Press, 2016) is a verse history of Black music, from work songs to Motown-era Soul. Her poems have been featured in HEArt Online, Mandala Journal, Riding Light, and elsewhere. At Smith, Nnoka majored in Africana Studies and English and was a Poetry Concentrator. Originally from outside of Washington, D.C., she spent a year teaching English in France and is currently doing graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

MARNEY RATHBUN’s chapbook, I call my father by his name, was a winner of the 2016 Jubilat Makes A Chapbook competition. Her work can be seen in Reservoir Literary Journal and (b)OINK magazine. Rathbun majored in Africana Studies at Smith and was a Poetry Concentrator. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at New York University. 

ABE LOUISE YOUNG, one of the very first interns at the Poetry Center, is the author of two chapbooks, Ammonite (2008) and Heaven to Me (2016). Her poems and essays have appeared in Witness, Verse Daily, Narrative Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, and The Nation. Born in New Orleans, she holds an MA from Northwestern University and an MFA from the James Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin. She has led writing workshops in more than thirty states and worked on a wide variety of story-based social change projects.

Supported by the Program for the Study of Women & Gender


Tuesday, March 6, 2018
7:30pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall

ELLEN DORE WATSON’s Dogged Hearts was pronounced “wild and delirious” by Gerald Stern. This reading celebrates the release of her fifth book, pray me stay eager. Praising Watson’s “drumming heart and hard-driving mind,” Alicia Ostriker declared that the language in this new collection “leaps, dives, soars, ricochets, lurches and reels, fusing the stubbornly instantaneous and the transcendent eternal.” Publishers Weekly notes: “Towards the end of her poem ‘Hermitage’ Watson writes, ‘This is not strictly a story’—and she’s right, it isn’t. These poems are musical meditations on what cannot be narrated, but must be prayed or sung.” Recipient of awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the NEA, Watson is also a noted translator, with over a dozen books from Brazilian Portuguese, including the poetry of Adélia Prado. In addition to poetry writing at Smith, Watson’s teaching includes the Colrain Manuscript Conference, the Drew University Low-Residency MFA program in Poetry and Translation, and a generative writing workshop in Northampton. She also serves as Poetry and Translation editor of The Massachusetts Review. While this marks her 19th and final year as director of the Poetry Center, she will stay on at Smith for several years as the Conkling Visiting Poet.  


Tuesday, March 27, 2018
7:30pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall

Born on a rice farm near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, OCEAN VUONG came with family to live in Hartford as a toddler, and before turning thirty was hailed by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers.” His blazing debut collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, has garnered a slew of honors, including a Whiting Award, the citation for which praises how these poems “unflinchingly face the legacies of violence and cultural displacement but…also assume a position of wonder before the world.” His poems are whispered prayers of the body that seek a pathway out of trauma through intimacy. Daniel Wenger writes in the New Yorker that reading his work is like “watching a fish move” through the “currents of English with muscled intuition.” As described by The New York Times, Vuong is a poet who “captures specific moments in time with both photographic clarity and a sense of the evanescence of all earthly things,” at once uncovering and resurfacing histories that are interwoven with the present. His poems have been featured in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, New Republic, and The Village Voice. Vuong was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of 2016’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers, alongside Hillary Clinton and Ban Ki-Moon. He holds an MFA from NYU, and recently joined the faculty of the MFA Program at UMass Amherst. 

Supported by the Lewis Global Studies Center


Tuesday, April 3, 2018
7:30pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall

The 16th Annual Reading in celebration of poetry at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, featuring two students from each institution: Jonah Davis and Avery Farmer (Amherst); Lazuli Liu and Corrie Owens-Beauchesne (Hampshire); Bennett Sambrook and Becca Mullen (Mt. Holyoke); Janelle Tan and Savannah Tilley (Smith); Stacey Cusson and Cressida Richards (UMass)

Supported by Five Colleges, Inc.

MARIE HOWE and the High School Prize Winners

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
7:30pm, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

MARIE HOWE sees her work as an act of confession, conversation, prayer. She says simply, “Poetry is telling something to someone.” In the words of Stanley Kunitz, Howe’s “telling” is “luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life.” Her work glows with light and lightness that bear heavy questions of existence. Alicia Ostriker considers her “among our most gifted poets of trauma and healing.” Part of the urgency and importance of Howe’s poetry stems from its rootedness in real life. Her latest book, Magdalene, transforms driving, watching television and cleaning kitchen counters into prayer and meditation on mortality. As Mary Magdalene becomes every woman, our contemporary anguish is set on surprisingly common ground with divine and metaphysical preoccupations. As Nick Flynn puts it, Howe “has always come as close as any poet since Rilke to touching eternity, simply by stretching out her hand and believing that something exists beyond her grasp, beyond her knowing.” Her bravery in laying bare the music of her own pain is part of its resonance. Howe served as the New York Poet Laureate from 2012-2014, and is the recipient of many distinguished awards, including fellowships from the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, the Academy of American Poets, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. 

Supported by the Department of English Language & Literatures



Tuesday, April 24, 2018
7:30 pm, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

The common thread that brings all of us together on Tuesday nights is simple: We. Love. Poems. We have favorite poems that we carry with us throughout our lives, poems to help us celebrate, grieve, and make sense of the world we share. Where do you, our audience, come in? We want to hear your favorites! Started by Robert Pinsky after he was named Poet Laureate in 1997, Favorite Poem Project readings have taken place across the U.S., giving communities a chance to share and hear the poems that enrich our lives. 

We are in search of readers for our Favorite Poem Project reading on April 24, 2018!

What’s your favorite poem—and why?

Send us a favorite poem and a few sentences about why it has special meaning for you!

Submissions open: February 15 – March 30. 
A dozen readers from across our audience will be chosen to read their favorite poem at Weinstein Auditorium at this celebration that draws our outstanding 20th season to a close; 
Readers will be chosen by early April.

Submit Here!