Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Tracy K. Smith
May 2, 2012
I’m traveling today en route from New York City to Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, and I’m really looking forward to enjoying some sunshine. The month of April was incredibly busy for me, and I felt like I was constantly on an airplane — probably because I was!
But I also tried to fit in some down time to recharge whenever I could. Sometimes that meant five minutes in an airport lounge before I had to board my flight, but five minutes is still five minutes!
And while it was hard to stay focused on novels and longer books with so much other work to do, I found that I could almost always find the time for a poem. (Which worked out nicely because April was National Poetry Month.)
One poet I respect and admire tremendously is Tracy K. Smith, who lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Princeton University. While I was traveling from one country to the next last month, I read many of the poems in her most recent collection, Life On Mars.
I was completely swept away by her beautiful poems, so I was thrilled when a few days after finishing the book, it was announced that Life On Mars was the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for poetry!
One of my favorite poems in the collection seems especially appropriate for us event designers, because it’s about a party… well, at least tangentially it is, anyway. So, in (belated) honor of National Poetry Month and Tracy’s big win, I’d thought I’d share it here. After all, everyone always asks what inspires me, and what’s more inspiring than a beautiful poem?
The Universe Is a House Party
The universe is expanding. Look: postcards
And panties, bottles with lipstick on the rim,
Orphan socks and napkins dried into knots.
Quickly, wordlessly, all of it whisked into file
With radio waves from a generation ago,
Drifting to the edge of what doesn’t end,
Like the air inside a balloon. Is it bright?
Will our eyes crimp shut? Is it molten, atomic,
A conflagration of suns? It sounds like the kind of party
Your neighbors forget to invite you to: bass throbbing
Through walls, and everyone thudding around drunk
On the roof. We grind lenses to an impossible strength,
Point them toward the future, and dream of beings
We’ll welcome with indefatigable hospitality:
How marvelous you’ve come! We won’t flinch
At the pinprick mouths, the nubbin limbs. We’ll rise,
Gracile, robust. Mi casa es su casa. Never more sincere.
Seeing us, they’ll know exactly what we mean.
Of course, it’s ours. If it’s anyone’s, it’s ours.
— Tracy K. Smith