Literary Arts Series

Authors visit BCC

Colum McCann

Colum McCann is the 2014 Literary Arts Series spring author. He will be speaking Tuesday, March 25, in TEC 128.

His most recent book is TransAtlantic, and he won the 2009 National Book Award for his previous novel, Let The Great World Spin, excerpted in The Paris Review. He is also the author of Zoli, Dancer, Everything in This Country Must, This Side of Brightness, Songdogs, and Fishing the Sloe-black River.

McCann is interviewed in The Guardian and profiled in the New York Times Magazine. You can hear the author reading from TransAtlantic in this New Yorker podcast.

McCann wrote about the experience of being an immigrant in The New York Times and his love of boxing in The American Scholar.

Recently, he helped found Narrative4, a group of activists and artists who “believe something as simple as a story can change the world.” A recent anthology, The Book of Men, was published to help launch the nonprofit.

We encourage you to incorporate an excerpt, short story, or part of McCann’s work into your syllabus and course material. To this effect, LAS is offering several “teaching approaches” to Colum McCann before the event, including sample questions.

Tracy K Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the 2013 Fall Poetry Arts Series poet. She will be speaking Thursday, November 7th.

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, 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 in part an 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.

Smith’s poems embody the lyrical, rhythmic quality of masters such as Lorca. At times political, whimsical, and always meditative, they speak largely to the role of art and to the conception of what it means to be American, dealing with the “evolution and decline of the culture we belong to.” Her work also explores the dichotomy between the ordered world and the irrationality of the self, the importance of submitting oneself willingly to the “ongoing conflict” of life and surviving nonetheless. For Smith, in her own words, poetry is a way of “stepping into the mess of experience.”

After her undergraduate work at Harvard, Smith earned her MFA at Columbia before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997 to 1999. She currently teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University, and has also taught at Columbia, City University of New York, and the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Brooklyn.