Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

U.S. Poet Laureate Visits South Coast As Part Of National Tour To Boost Interest In Literature

Shawn Miller/Library of Congress
U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reads her poem called "Enunciation"

In this era of political and social controversy, and fast moving pop culture, an acclaimed author who’s visiting the South Coast is on a crusade to get people to take a step back, and see the world from a different perspective.

Tracy K. Smith is America’s Poet Laureate. 

She says she found poetry when she was in elementary school.  But, Smith admits she was sidetracked when she was in high school.  Her favorite poets were all dead poets, which led her to believe that poetry wasn’t a current thing anymore.

But, in college, she was excited to find that poetry was very much alive, as she would go to poetry readings and events.  She decided she wanted to make it her career.  Family members and friends were skeptical, urgering to think about something safer like law school.  But, she persisted.

To say she’s been successful in the world of poetry is putting it mildly.  Smith acclaimed collections include the highly successful “Wade in the Water,” and the Pulitzer prize winning “Life On Mars.”

The Princeton professor, who’s speaking at U-C Santa Barbara Thursday, has won more than a dozen top literary honors.  In 217, she was appointed as America’s 22nd Poet Laureate.  She’s made it her mission to try to remove some of the elitist stigma many attach to poetry.

Smith believes poetry can act as a prism for us to view many of the complex issues we face in the world, like racism.

The poet laureate believes poetry can provide a thoughtful respite from the fast paced world.

Smith will speak at UCSB’s Campbell Hall.  The UCSB Arts And Lectures event, “An Evening with the Unites States Poet Laureate,” begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and is open to the public.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.