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James Tate and Zadie Smith
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM
McCosh Hall 50


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Poet James Tate and novelist Zadie Smith will read from their works in McCosh Hall 50 on the Princeton University campus on Wednesday, March 28 at 4:30 p.m. Jenna Devine, a thesis student of Joyce Carol Oates, will also read from her fiction.  The reading, part of the Program in Creative Writing’s Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series at the Lewis Center for the Arts, is free and open to the public.

James TateJames Tate has received many literary honors, including a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, a Pulitzer Prize in poetry, a National Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  He is currently Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has previously taught creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. He is also a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Tate is the author of a number of poetry collections including, Memoir of the Hawk; Shroud of the Gnome; Worshipful Company of Fletchers, which won the National Book Award in 1994; Selected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and the William Carlos Williams Award; Distance from Loved Ones; Reckoner; Constant Defender; Riven Doggeries; Viper Jazz; Absences; Hints to Pilgrims; The Oblivion Ha-Ha; and his first major collection, The Lost Pilot, which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

His poems have been described as tragic, comic, absurdist, nihilistic, hopeful, haunting, lonely, and surreal. In a 1998 interview, he points to one unifying element in his work: “My characters usually are – or, I’d say most often, I don’t want to generalize too much – but most often they’re in trouble, and they’re trying to find some kind of life.” Of Tate’s work, the poet John Ashbery wrote in the New York Times: "Local color plays a role, but the main event is the poet's wrestling with passing moments, frantically trying to discover the poetry there and to preserve it, perishable as it is. Tate is the poet of possibilities, of morph, of surprising consequences, lovely or disastrous, and these phenomena exist everywhere... I return to Tate's books more often perhaps than to any others when I want to be reminded afresh of the possibilities of poetry."

Susan Wheeler, award-winning poet, novelist and the Director of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, will introduce Tate.

Zadie SmithZadie Smith is a British novelist and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  She currently serves as a tenured professor of fiction in the Creative Writing Program at New York University. Smith is a graduate of Cambridge University and has previously taught at Harvard and Columbia universities.

Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000), was the winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award, The Guardian First Book Award, two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards, and The Commonwealth Writers’ First Book Award.  Her second novel, The Autograph Man (2002), won The Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith’s third novel, On Beauty (2005), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won The Commonwealth Writers’ Best Book Award (Eurasia Section) and the Orange Prize for Fiction.  She is the editor of an anthology of short stories entitled, The Book of Other People.  Her collection of essays, Changing My Mind, was published in November 2009 to critical acclaim.

Michiko Kakutani, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, notes, “Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice – at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humor and virtually everything in between – she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane.”

Jeffrey Eugenides, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist and author of The Virgin Suicides (1993), Middlesex (2002), and The Marriage Plot (2011) will introduce Ms. Smith.

Jenna Devine, a senior in the Program in Creative Writing and a student of Joyce Carol Oates, will be reading selections from her fiction thesis.

The Lewis Center’s Program in Creative Writing is sponsoring this event as part of the ongoing Althea Ward Clark W’21 reading series, which provides an opportunity for students, as well as all in the greater Princeton region to hear and meet the best writers of contemporary poetry and fiction.  All readings are free and open to the public and take place on select Wednesdays generally at 4:30 p.m. in venues on the University campus. Other upcoming readings include:

  • Mary Ruefle and Jane Smiley on April 11 at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50
  • Creative Writing Program student reading from work done in spring workshops on May 2 at 5:15 p.m. in the Chancellor Green Rotunda
  • Creative Writing Program certificate seniors will read from their work on May 8 at the Nassau Club (poetry) and on May 9 at the Palmer House (fiction)

Photos Link:

Photo Caption:  Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet James TatePhoto Credit:   Photo by Star Black
Photo Caption:  Critically acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith
Photo Credit: Photo by Roderick Field

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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