Joshua Roman & Tracy K. Smith

Libby Lewis Photography

Joshua Roman & Tracy K. Smith

Past Event: Thursday, February 25, 2016

At Town Hall Seattle

Poetry Icon


Co-Presented by The Seattle Times. Sponsored by KPLU 88.5 FM, and Seattle Met.

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light and three books of poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, Life on Mars, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie, and is in part an elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope.

Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement.

After her undergraduate work at Harvard, Smith earned her MFA at Columbia before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997 to 1999. She currently teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University, and has also taught at Columbia, City University of New York, and the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Princeton.

“A cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts” (San Francisco Chronicle), Joshua Roman has earned national renown for performing a wide-ranging repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. He is also recognized as an accomplished composer, curator, and programmer, particularly in his work as Artistic Director of Seattle Town Hall’s TownMusic series, with a vision to engage and expand the classical music audience. For his ongoing creative initiatives on behalf of classical music, Roman was named a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of next generation innovators of unusual accomplishments who show potential to positively affect the world.

Before embarking on a solo career, Roman spent two seasons as principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, a position he won in 2006 at the age of 22. Since that time he has appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador, among many others.

Roman has set Smith’s work to music in a piece entitiled “we do it to one another”. This piece will feature soprano Jessica Rivera, who The New York Times calls, “vocally luminous,” and will be conducted by Roman. A conversation between Roman and Smith will follow.

Co-presented by Town Hall Seattle.


Selected Works:

Ordinary Light (2015)
Life on Mars (2011) – Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Duende (2007) – Winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets
The Body’s Question (2003) – Winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Ballad (2008)


Joshua Roman’s homepage
Mentor and Protégé Journal: Connecting through music
Andrius Zlabys and Joshua Roman performing Zlabys’ piece “Passacaglia” at Town Hall Seattle on April 22, 2014
The GuardianOrdinary Light by Tracy K Smith review – powerful meditation on daughters and mothers
WNYC Studio 360: Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars
Makers Profile: Tracy K. Smith

Event Details

Town Hall Seattle

1119 8th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.