Tracy K. Smith, United States Poet Laureate for 2017-2019, and Brandon Hobson, author and one of five finalists for the 2018 National Book Award, will be the featured speakers for East Central University’s 2019 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival set for April 4-6, 2019.
There will be more than 50 speakers at the three-day event.
For more information on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival or questions about group attendance, contact Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557 or at KHada@ecok.edu.
Smith, who will be speaking on the first day of the event on April 4, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and was a National Book Award Finalist for Memoir. In 2017, she was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate.
Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction and was selected as a Notable Book by the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as three books of poetry.
Her most recent collection of poems, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie and is part of the elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope. Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005.
In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2016, she won the 16th Annual Robert Creeley Award. Her most recent collection, Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018) boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to the nation’s fraught founding history and a sense of the spirit, the everlasting.
Her memoir, Ordinary Light, “begins with a harrowing scene at the deathbed of Smith’s mother, who died in 19994,” writes Craig Morgan Teicher. “From there it circles back to Smith’s early childhood, tracing her growth not just as a writer, but as someone who must learn the hard lessons of puberty and early adulthood, as well as what it means to be a black woman growing up in suburban California. Her discovery of poetry is part of this, but the most remarkable moments of the book are the ones in which Smith deals with ordinary trials, which she treats with rare insight and heart.
Booklist calls Ordinary Light “a gracefully nuanced yet strikingly candid memoir about family, faith, race and literature” and praises Smith for her ability to “hold our intellectual and emotional attention ever so tightly as she charts her evolving thoughts on the divides between races, generations, economic classes, religion and science and celebrates her lifesaving discovery of poetry as ‘soul language.’” BBC’s Between the Lines, says simply, “Ordinary Light is a lament, an homage, a discovery, a blessing.”
A resident of Princeton, New Jersey, Smith did her undergraduate work at Harvard before earning her M.F.A. at Columbia University before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997-99. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in Humanities and director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.
Hobson is the author of Where The Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. He is also the author of the books Deep Ellum and Desolation of Avenues Untold.
He has won a Pushcart Prize and his stories and essays have appeared in such places as The Believer, Conjunctions, NOON, The Paris Review Daily, Publisher’s Weekly and elsewhere. Hobson teaches at Northern Oklahoma College and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.