Award-winning author Patricia Smith shared poetry and a handful of personal literary experiences during her keynote address at this year’s English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities Conference on Friday afternoon in the Tuscarora Room.
Having learned the art of storytelling from her parents, she first began writing poetry in her teen years.
“Writing is my chosen way of moving through the world,” Smith said.
Since then, she was amazed by the power that language has to move someone from place to place.
Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, and her newest book, “Incendiary Art,” addresses racial issues through a unique perspective — a mother’s eyes. This mostly unseen perspective adds a distinct twist to each poem.
Smith is known for creating poetry that does not shy away from discussing hard-hitting topics. Her book “Blood Dazzler” is dedicated to poetry that recreates Hurricane Katrina as a “full-blown mistress of destruction.” Her use of personification dares to make such devastating qualities human.
Along with sharing her work with attendees, Smith gave specific tips to those interested in following in her footsteps.
“When you look at anything, look all around it,” Smith said. “You have to be intensely curious about whatever it is.”
Smith said being able to cover a topic in a way that can stand apart from similar works is vital.
The desire to learn more about the world is a crucial aspect of thriving as a creator.
“I’m out-of-the-world excited to be a writer. Every day when you wake up it’s a blank canvas,” she said.