“It’s Been So Beautiful”: Tracy K. Smith, on her first trip abroad as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Where? Why, to the favorite destination of trend-setting, human-rights-loving U.S. poets:

China!

Where she gave a feature reading, after participating with U.S. poets John Yau and Kevin Young, among others, in an officially sponsored event on “translation.”

Given her final words below regarding her experience in China (“It’s been so beautiful.”), in an interview there, it seems unlikely she (or Yau and Young) took the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the many imprisoned and silenced writers and artists of China.

Way to go, Empire Poets. More perks to come your way down the road, for sure.

[from the interview: http://supchina.com/2017/10/18/tracy-k-smith-interview/

AT: On Monday, you read poems [at The Bookworm] about the Lama Temple [a Beijing landmark] and Nanluoguxiang [a popular alley flanked with cafes, bars, and shops]. How do you decide if a place is worth writing about, and if you could write about anything else in China, what would it be?

TKS: I think a place tells me if it’s worth writing about, because it speaks to me on some level. If I were to…when I write more poems about China, they’ll probably have to do with the people whom I’ve met and some of the interactions, some of the spaces between languages, and then some of the ways that space gets filled up. It’s been so beautiful.

For some introductory information about persecuted writers in China, which U.S. tourist poets seem intent on ignoring, see here at PEN America:

https://pen.org/advocacy-campaign/freedom-of-expression-in-china/

–Dispatches