Newspoet: Tracy K. Smith Writes The Day In Verse

Play associated audio

Today marks the start of an exciting project at All Things Considered. Each month we'll be bringing in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's news.

The first poet to participate is Tracy K. Smith. She has received degrees in English and creative writing from Harvard College, Columbia University, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Her latest book of poems is titled Life on Mars.

Smith sat down with All Things Considered's Melissa Block to talk about writing a poem in a hurry. She called the day she spent with NPR's producers "delightful, and a little terrifying."

But reflecting on the headlines isn't exactly a new activity for Smith. In fact, she said she often finds that news events are "things I am thinking about and wrestling with and trying to understand better." And for a poet, there's no better way to do that than to write.

Asked where she got the idea for this poem, Smith explained that she came to the morning news meeting at All Things Considered, where she got a preview of the day's stories. Then she sat down to do some background reading. "I just listened to what seemed to rise to the surface for me," she said.

It got easier when she found a point of view that she could identify with: One story by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton — about Nigerians fleeing violence in the north of the country — struck a particular chord. "The sense of individual lives and individual bodies gave me a starting point, Smith explained." Her poem responding to that story is below.

All Things Considered's Newspoet is produced and edited by Ellen Silva with production assistance from Rose Friedman.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Cult Survivor Documents 2 Decades Inside 'Holy Hell'

Will Allen directed the documentary Holy Hell, which depicts his experience as a videographer and member of The Buddhafield cult. Allen used his own footage, as well as his interviews with other former members, to make this documentary.
NPR

Evaporated Cane Juice? Puh-leeze. Just Call It Sugar, FDA Says

Companies cultivating a healthful image often list "evaporated cane juice" in their products' ingredients. But the FDA says it's really just sugar, and that's what food labels should call it.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - May 27, 2016

Congress votes to override DC's 2013 ballot initiative on budget autonomy. Virginia governor faces a federal investigation over international finance and lobbying rules. And DC, Maryland and Virginia move to create a Metro safety oversight panel.

NPR

After Departure Of Uber, Lyft In Austin, New Companies Enter The Void

Earlier this month, voters in Austin, Texas, rejected an effort to overturn the city's rules for ride-hailing companies. Uber and Lyft tried to prevent fingerprinting of their drivers, and now both have left town. A few other ride-share companies have popped up to help fill the void. NPR explores how people are getting around town without Uber and Lyft.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.