A literary landmark, "African American Poetry: 250 Years Of Struggle & Song," edited by Young, is the most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present. One of the great American art forms, African American poetry encompasses many kinds of verse: formal, experimental, vernacular, lyric and protest.
This event is the launch of a series of programs and discussions to be presented through February by Princeton Public Library as part of the Library of America's "Lift Every Voice" project and website.
Tracy K. Smith served as the 22nd United States Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019 and is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, including, most recently, "Wade in the Water" and "Life on Mars," which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2012. Her memoir, "Ordinary Light," was a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2015. Smith serves as the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and also hosts the daily poetry podcast "The Slowdown."
Kevin Young is the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and poetry editor of the New Yorker, where he also hosts the poetry podcast. He is the author of 13 books of poetry and prose, most recently "Brown." He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020. He will be the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture starting in January.
This program is part of Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters, a national public humanities initiative of Library of America presented in partnership with The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Emerson Collective.