Danez Smith and Patricia Smith | Readings + Conversation
Thursday, December 3, 2020, 5:00-6:30 PST
This event took place online.
Find the full recording here.
Danez Smith and Patricia Smith had a joint reading and conversation. This reading was generously funded by the Engaging the Senses Foundation, and was part of ARC’s ongoing Poetry and the Senses initiative. Danez and Patricia were joined in conversation by 2020 ARC Poetry fellow Menat Allah El Attma and ARC Program Director Laurie Macfee, and took questions from the online audience.
Poetry and the Senses creates meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. As a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley, ARC acts as a facilitator and connector between the campus and the many flourishing regional poetry communities. This two-year initiative (Jan 2020 – Dec 2021) explores the relevance and urgency of lyrical making and storytelling in times of political crisis, and the value of engaging the senses as an act of care, mindfulness, and resistance.
The theme for 2020 was emerge/ncy. What kinds of poetic modes of address might be recruited in times of global catastrophe? How does poetry help us think through and within crisis? “Emergency” implies urgency, sudden harm, life-threatening violence, and extreme circumstances, but embedded within it is the word “emergence;” suggesting rebirth and new beginnings. How can we understand moments of emergency as catalysts for renewal, as ruptures that signal massive—if painful—change?
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award; they also wrote [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely, appearing on platforms such as Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, was published by Graywolf in January 2020. Find more at www.danezsmithpoet.com
Patricia Smith is the award-winning author of eight critically-acclaimed books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (Triquarterly Books, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow (CityFiles Press, 2015), a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press, 2006), Close to Death (Zoland Books, 1998), Big Towns Big Talk (Zoland Books, 2002), Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha, 1991); the children’s book Janna and the Kings (Lee & Low, 2013), and the history Africans in America (Mariner, 1999), a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (Akashic Books, 2012). Smith is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Smith is a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, as well as an instructor at the annual VONA residency and in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Residency Program.
This event was co-sponsored by the Engaging the Senses Foundation.