Tracy K Smith at Central Library

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Tracy K Smith
Poet Tracy K Smith.

Tracy K Smith at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 14 June 2019 Tickets from £6 — Book now

This is your chance to catch the Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K Smith, in a rare UK appearance. Organised by Manchester Literature Festival in the lead-up to this year’s main programme, running 4 to 20 October, this is hopefully a tasty snifter of what to expect this autumn.

Released at the end of May with Penguin, Tracy’s “best of”, Eternity: Selected Poems spans almost 20 years and gathers together work from her four collections to date: The Body’s Question (2003), Duende (2007), Life On Mars (2011), for which she won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, and last year’s Wade In The Water, which was shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the TS Eliot Prize.

“Poetry isn’t an escape or even a luxury. I’d argue it’s a necessity, a means of living more deeply with reality,” she has said, and her poetry has been described by others as “powerful and tender” (ELLE) and “an awakening itself” (Vogue), while New York Magazine said it “deftly illuminates America’s generational wounds”.

The 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K Smith’s poems encompass everything from religion to money, spoken of “as if it were a mysterious lover / Who went out to buy milk and never / Came back”

The 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, a position which Tracy K Smith took on in 2017, the New Yorker calls her a “storyteller” and her poems encompass everything from religion (God is sought “In Bibles and bandwidth”; her “emissaries” are Hell’s Angels) to money, spoken of “as if it were a mysterious lover / Who went out to buy milk and never / Came back”, in between taking on the big questions: life, death, power, politics, the environment, motherhood and race. She considers the role of black women in society and their own families, and explores their lives (and her own) through their bodies, their desires, their adventures and their experiences. There are compilations of sources, borrowings and “based-upons”, and nods to all kinds of kindred spirits, from David Bowie to Pablo Neruda. There are found poems, epistolary pieces and even verbatim histories of slavery and the American Civil War. And contrasting the worst of humanity, the treat of roast chicken and the pleasure of greasy spoon eggs are equally not forgotten.

For this special MLF event, Tracy will perform poems from Wade In The Water and Eternity: Selected Poems. Author of the memoir Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Tracy also teaches at Princeton University in the States, and she will discuss her extraordinary career – aged still only 47 – with Manchester-based poet and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay.

Tracy K Smith at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 14 June 2019 Tickets from £6 Book now

A white, middle aged man with short brown hair and wearing a light blue shirt, sits at a round table by a window and against a white wall. He has his arms crossed on the table.
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Where to go near Tracy K Smith at Central Library

St Peters Square Manchester
City Centre
St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square is a public space in Manchester – home to the city’s iconic library, town hall, Pankhurst statue, art gallery and famous Midland Hotel.

Manchester Art Gallery. Photo by Andrew Brooks
City Centre
Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery

The Charles Barry-designed, Grade I-listed Manchester Art Gallery is one of the city’s leading galleries and is back open for visitors once more.

Chinatown
Hotel
The Alan

This high-end city-centre restaurant has an excellent afternoon tea option that more than matches up to the superb main menu.

Salut Wines
Chinatown
Bar or Pub
Salut Wines

Salut wines pride themselves in offering “wider horizons beyond the safe choices.” With 42 wines by the glass and a regularly changing selection of bottles in their Enomatic wine preservation machines (or  “wine jukebox,” as they’re colloquially known), this is one of be best bars in Manchester for exploring new vintages.

Manchester
Restaurant
Friska

Latest branch of Friska, the independent healthy fast food chain.

Manchester
Restaurant
Don Giovanni

Traditional Italian restaurant, serving everything from pizza to steak. All this in a large modern venue with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Chinatown
Restaurant
Manchester Art Gallery Cafe

Summery bakes, seasonal salads and fresh light meals at Manchester Art Gallery’s in-house café, courtesy of highly-regarded Head Chef Matthew Taylor.

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Tourist Attraction
Manchester Town Hall

Re-opening in 2024, Manchester Town Hall is a monument to Victorian Manchester’s ambition, and one of the city’s most-loved landmarks.

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Tourist Attraction
Albert Square

A public square in the heart of Manchester which plays hosts to festivals and major events. Home to the Albert Memorial and statues of Bishop James Fraser, John Bright, Oliver Heywood and William Ewart Gladstone.

Contemporary Six, art gallery in Manchester
City Centre
Gallery
Contemporary Six

Contemporary Six is an independent commercial art gallery in Manchester city centre, set up by Alex Reuben in 2010.

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