Tracy K. Smith: the Poem as a Vehicle for Compassion

Interview excerpts from Devil’s Lake:

But I loved the idea of what life in the future might look like. The more I thought in that direction, and the more films I watched as a way of feeding into that image, the more I started to realize that space and time and the distant future were becoming metaphors for American life, for a sense of American destiny, for the evolution and decline of the culture we belong to.


I wanted to step into a kind of conversation between the people who committed the crimes and the victims, and to push myself past the easy, initial reaction of mere anger. I wanted to hold myself accountable to a higher standard of response, to step into a complicated sense of compassion. The poem became a vehicle for that.

Read the full here.


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