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Tina Chang & Tracy K. Smith’s conversation on poetry and friendship

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In their talk at Cave Canem on May 19, “The Spirit That Is Charged: A Conversation about Poetry and Friendship,” Tina Chang and Tracy K. Smith offered a glimpse into their 20-plus years of friendship, sharing anecdotes and letters from their days as MFA students at Columbia and speaking with candor about writing, marriage, parenthood, aging and loss—not to mention their shared love of music and karaoke.

Breaking out her iPhone to play the theme to the TV show Good Times, Smith said to Chang, “To me, that is like the theme song to our shared youth. What does that trigger for you?”

“There were good times, and then it was also really balanced by tremendous times of deep, deep questioning, too,” Chang said. “‘Where are we headed as writers? What is it that we’re doing next?’ And each time I had that question, I had that sounding board—that was Tracy.”

Enjoy their full conversation below.