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Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series

Save the Date: April 12, 2024!

CAALS 2024 welcomes Tracy K. Smith


The Marygrove Conservancy is pleased to announce that the thirty-fifth guest in the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS) is Tracy K. Smith

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and U.S. Poet Laureate (2017-2019). She will deliver the Bauder Lecture at Marygrove at 8 pm on April 12, 2024.


Smith is the author of five books of poetry: The Body’s Question (2003), Duende (2007), Life on Mars (2011), Wade in the Water (2019), and Such Color: New and Selected Poems (2022). Her memoir, Ordinary Light, appeared in 2015. She wrote the librettos for two operas, and a third will premier in 2024. A prose work, To Free the Captives. a response to recent violence directed at African Americans, was published on November 7, 2023. As poet laureate, she edited the anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (2018) and produced the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown. With John Freeman, she edited There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love, an anthology of writing that responds to our turbulent historical era. In March 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A graduate of Harvard University, Smith is Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and professor of English and of African and African American Studies in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

After reading her poetry, Professor Smith will be joined by Michigan’s Poet Laureate Nandi Comer for an onstage conversation.

In anticipation of Smith's visit, The Marygrove Conservancy and AARP Michigan will host an in-person book discussion group and writing workshop with Nandi Comer at Marygrove at 4 pm on April 9th. For details and registration, click here. 

Interested in hosting a discussion of Tracy K. Smith's poetry, essays, and other writings in your community? Jumpstart your conversations with a CAALS Resource Guide, including discussion questions, writing prompts, and links to supplemental materials to enrich your reading of Smith's work. Electronic resource materials for youth and adults will be distributed the week of March 11, about a month before Tracy K. Smith's much anticipated Bauder Lecture on April 12 at Marygrove. Sign up to receive your free CAALS Resource Guide here

CAALS is supported by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan AARP, and the Lillian and Don Bauder Endowments.

For more information, contact Frank Rashid:


The Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS)

Established in 1989, CAALS is an annual event bringing a nationally known African American author to our campus for a public lecture and class session or conversation. Through the generous support of corporate donors, foundations, advertisers, friends, Marygrove College alumni and Board of Trustees members, and the Lillian and Donald Bauder Endowment, the series has remained free and accessible to the entire metropolitan Detroit community. To date, over 10,000 people have attended the Friday night public readings to hear outstanding writers share their work, and thousands of Detroit area high school and college students as well as others in the Detroit community have studied these works and attended class sessions with guest authors in the series. Since 2020, thousands of others have viewed the livestreamed event via Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. 

The Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series and Defining Detroit, a program of the Institute for Detroit Studies at Marygrove, have brought to Detroit audiences the recipients of eleven MacArthur “Genius” Grants, ten National Book Awards, eight Guggenheim Fellowships, seven Pulitzer Prizes, five Pushcart Prizes, three Emmy Awards, and one Man Booker Prize. In addition, the two series have welcomed three U.S. Poets Laureate and one Presidential Inaugural Poet.

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