UND Writers Conference Panel: "A Life with the Arts"

Saturday, March 25, 2023 12 pm to 1 pm

UND Memorial Union, Ballroom
Cost: Free Event

Join us at the 54th Annual UND Writers Conference, "The Healing Arts," featuring a panel discussion on "A Life with the Arts" featuring Pulitzer prize winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, critically-claimed memorist/fiction writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras, memorist, poet, & UND alum, Juliet Patterson, as well as textiles artist Niki Tsukamoto!

About the authors/artists

Tracy K. Smith received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third book of poems, Life on Mars. The collection draws upon the genre of science fiction in considering who we humans are and what the vast universe holds for us. In poems of political urgency, tenderness, elegy and wit, Smith conjures version upon version of the future, imagines the afterlife, and contemplates life here on earth in our institutions, cities, houses and hearts. Life on Mars was a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. 

Smith’s debut collection, The Body’s Question, was selected by Kevin Young as winner of the Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. Straddling languages, speakers, and geographies, the poems bear witness to love, loss, and belonging while laying claim to a large and nimble sense of identity. In his introduction, Young writes, “Smith…seems perfectly at home speaking of grief and loss, of lust and hunger, of joy and desire—which here often means the desire for desire, and a desire for language itself.”

Duende, Smith’s second book, received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. The collection takes its title from a term Federico Garcia Lorca brought into broad parlance. The duende is the wild, unpredictable and oftentimes dangerous energy an artist might seek to conjure up and contend with. Unlike the Muse, which exists beyond or above the artist, the duende sleeps deep within—as pure urge, fury, chaos, and passion—waiting to be awakened and wrestled, often at great cost. In Smith’s hands, this sense of artistic struggle and daring meets up with forms of social and political struggle, resistance and survival. It also illuminates the private upheaval of divorce and its aftermath.

In her memoir, Ordinary Light, Smith explores her own experience of race, religion, and the death of her mother shortly after Smith graduated from Harvard. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award, and named a Notable Book by both the New York Times and Washington Post.

Smith’s fourth book of poems, Wade in the Water, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for its examination of the grave contradictions tied up in America’s history. In documentary “found” and “erasure” poems, Smith unravels the knot of racism and denial as the central conundrum of America, and she forges a vocabulary of compassion as a possible route forward through our current strife. In 2019 a selection of her poetry titled Eternity: Selected Poems was published in the UK. In 2020 Smith and Changtai Bi, co-translated Chinese poet Yi Lei's book of poetry My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree. In 2021 she edited, with John Freeman, the prose anthology There's A Revolution Outside, My Love, Letters from a Crisisand was guest editor for The Best American Poetry 2021. Her most recent book of poetry is Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, October 5, 2021).

Smith served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States, during which time she traveled across America, hosting poetry readings and conversations in rural communities. She edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time during her laureateship, and launched the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown.  In March 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Smith wrote the libretto for two operas; Castor and Patience, in collaboration with composer Gregory Spears, is rooted in a conflict over historically black-owned land. The work premiered with the Cincinnati Opera in July 2022. The other, A Marvelous Order, with composer Judd Greenstein and video artist Joshua Frankel, is about two competing visions of progress in New York City.

Smith is a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and a professor of English and of African and African American Studies in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Access her work at https://tracyksmith.com/.


Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree was the silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and a New York Times editor's choice. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times MagazineBuzzfeedNylon, and Guernica, among others. Rojas Contreras has received numerous awards and fellowships from Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. She is a Visiting Writer at Saint Mary’s College. She is working on a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds.

Access her work at https://www.ingridrojascontreras.com/


Juliet Patterson is the author of Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide (Milkweed Editions, September 2022) and two full-length poetry collections, Threnody, (Nightboat Books 2016), a finalist for the 2017 Audre Lorde Poetry Award, and The Truant Lover, (Nightboat Books, 2006), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award. A recipient of a 2011 Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize in non-fiction, and a 2010 Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she has also been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Minneapolis-based Creative Community Leadership Institute (formerly the Institute for Community and Creative Development). She teaches creative writing and literature at St. Olaf College and is also a faculty member of the college’s Environmental Conversations program.

Access her work at https://www.julietpatterson.com/


Niki Tsukamoto (b. 1974) is an artist living in the forest above Los Angeles whose practice centers traditional craft and herbalism encompassing natural dyes and fibers, stitch work, and weaving. Her work is deeply informed by the Wiener Werkstätte approach of coupling avant-garde aesthetics with traditional methods and the Bauhaus belief in the oneness of the artist and the craftsman.

As with both of the proceeding movements, the underlying principle of her practice is the creation of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or "total work of art”. Her daily practice is focused on the making of medicinally dyed cloth created with specific color frequencies from plant sources and meditations on our human conscious evolution through ritual and devotion.

Expanding on her work of the past two decades exploring myth-making, collective consciousness, and universal forms of symbolism, her current work is based in weaving, sewing, and dyeing touchstones of piecework aligned with the ideas of the original makers of jogakbo in the first century BC in what is now known as Korea. Scholars believe these cloths to have originally been made to provide divine protection and luck to the contents, stitching the creator’s concern and respect for the receiver into fibers. In our current era of increasingly unsure times, this work places a focus not on exacting technique, but on imbuing our lives with a sense of magic and purpose. It attempts to create an environment of reassuring touchstones and trust by using decorated fabrics as a thread connecting us through time to our most primal form of storytelling and a means of expanding the limitations of spoken language.

Learn more about Tsukamoto and "Lookout & Wonderland"

2901 University Ave Grand Forks, ND 58202

https://undwritersconference.org/ #UNDWC2023

0 People are interested in this event

Planning an event?

Submit your own event by using our simple event submission form. It only takes a minute!

Submit an Event