To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul

Tracy K. Smith
In Conversation With Morgan Parker
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Episode Summary

ALOUD welcomes two-time Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize–winner Tracy K. Smith with her remarkable book To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul. In 2020, heartsick from consistent assaults on Black life, Tracy K. Smith found herself soul-searching and digging into the historical archive for help navigating the "din of human division and strife." Bearing witness to the terms of freedom afforded her as a Black woman, a mother, and an educator in the twenty-first century, Smith etches a portrait of where we find ourselves four hundred years into the American experiment.

Smith was in conversation with poet, essayist, and Morgan Parker.

Participant(s) Bio

Tracy K. Smith is a librettist, a translator, and the author of five acclaimed poetry collections, including Life on Mars, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 2017 to 2019, she served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States. She lives in Massachusetts.

Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the young adult novel Who Put This Song On? and the poetry collections Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and Magical Negro, which won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.