CIS students visit U of M for talk by Pulitzer-prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith

Students+from+the+CIS+Literature+class+meet+with+poet+Tracy+K.+Smith+after+her+talk+at+the+University+of+Minnesota.

Students from the CIS Literature class meet with poet Tracy K. Smith after her talk at the University of Minnesota.

Lily Peterson, Guest Writer

In early November, the College in the School or CIS Literature students had the opportunity to visit the University of Minnesota to listen to poet Tracy K. Smith, following a brief unit they covered in class. 

For students, the talk provided insight into the process of creating poetry. “I thought it was very interesting hearing Tracy K Smith speak because she shared how she writes, and I thought that was very cool,” senior Sophia Sonbol said.

I think it was a really great opportunity to become more educated and informed on different types of literature that were not exposed to as often in the classroom.”

— Lillian Hertel

During Smith’s lecture, she talked about the significance of her writing and how it is impactful in today’s society. “??I was impressed with listening to Tracy K. Smith talks about her work and the things that she finds that still resonate with her or that resonate with the world around us how impactful that is and how poetry has that ability to create space,” English teacher Katie Belanger, who accompanied the class on this field trip, said. 

CIS is a class in which students get to learn about literature from many different perspectives. This one-semester class gives college credit to students who complete the course. Taught by Tiffany Joseph, this class has provided students with exposure to what an actual college class would be like. 

The course has covered books such as In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, and a brief poetry unit by reading Life on Mars, a book written by the guest speaker Tracy K. Smith. “I think we think poetry is so opaque, mystical almost, and listening to her talk about it today made it seem a lot more accessible,” Joseph said.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to be on campus and approach literature in another way. “I think it was a really great opportunity to become more educated and informed on different types of literature that were not exposed to as often in the classroom. And I think it was a really good and worthwhile effort by the English department to bring us out here because it was a really interesting and enlightening day,” senior Lillian Hertel said. 

CIS is new to BSM this year, and students hope it’ll become a permanent class, having already learned a lot in the short amount of time it’s been available.