American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities
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Audio Interviews

On the road between cities and venues on her “American Conversations” pilot trip to South Carolina, Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith chatted with Ruth Franklin, reporter for The New York Times Magazine, and Rob Casper, head of the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center, about the origins of the project and her role as the nation’s official poet. You can listen to a couple of these conversations below.

Listen to Tracy K. Smith discuss the notion of talking about poetry and craft to a general audience; how the language of poetry relates to the language of political speech; and why she chose to reach rural communities with “American Conversations.”
Read the transcript of this conversation.

Listen to Tracy K. Smith discuss the role of the U. S. poet laureate and its relationship to the federal government and the Library of Congress.
Read the transcript of this conversation.

To hear more from Tracy K. Smith’s visit to South Carolina, listen to “Making ‘American Conversations’: Part 2,” the second episode in a special three-part series of the Library of Congress’ “From the Catbird Seat” podcast that chronicles the origins of the poet laureate’s project. Tune in via our podcast page or your preferred podcast app.

On the podcast, you’ll hear reflections from Rob Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center, who traveled with Tracy K. Smith to South Carolina; an interview with U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn, who helped set up the South Carolina visit with his staff; and conversations with Tracy K. Smith on the road.