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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

July 11, 2018, 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Tracy K Smith Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Featuring US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

with Chaun Ballard, the winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize

Prelude Interview moderated by Kate Rushin

purchase tickets for July 11

Bring your own chairs, blankets and sun hats for sitting in this outdoor venue. You may also bring your own coolers of food and adult beverages, or purchase from gourmet food trucks and bartender. For reserved seating with chairs provided, please join The Live Poets Society.

For additional poetry events, see our Calendar.


5 pm           Prelude Interview with Tracy K. Smith
6 pm           Chaun Ballard
6:45 pm     Music by Tang Sauce & DJ Stealth
7:15 pm     Tracy K. Smith
8 pm          Book Signing


  • $15 advance online purchase, $20 at the gate, ages 18 and under free.
  • Parking is always free.



  • Food, wine and other beverages may also be purchased on site from gourmet food vendors.
  • Iron & Grain Co. will be located on the front lawn.
  • A bartender will be serving red and white wine in the Garden.
  • Festival attendees are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers.

Accessibility at the SGPF

Hill-Stead is proud to make the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival accessible. Wheelchair ramps are available, and many volunteers are on hand to assist the mobility impaired. An accessible section is reserved close to the main stage, and a large-print edition of the program book is available on-site.

ASL interpreters are provided by request in advance at

For additional poetry events, see our Calendar.


Tracy K Smith Sunken Garden Poetry FestivalTracy K. Smith was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and three books of poetry. Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question 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. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. Her next collection of poems, Wade in the Water, will be published in April 2018.

Chaun Ballard was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California, and has an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. For eight years now, he and his wife have been teaching in the Middle East and West Africa. Chaun Ballard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ANMLY (FKA Drunken Boat), Columbia Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, Rattle, and other literary magazines. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.


Tang Sauce was born and raised in Hartford, CT. He has been involved in the Hartford arts scene for years in productions like The Wiz, A Raisin In the Sun and Night Fall. He has hosted the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival and has been featured on the cover of CTNOW. Tang also has his own station. Tang Sauce brings an old school Hip-Hop flow with a new school perspective, with which he spreads peace, love and positivity.

DJ Stealth, the DJ moniker of Asaad Jackson, began learning the craft at WQTQ 89.9 Qute FM. He approaches the art of DJing the same way one would approach the playing of a conventional musical instrument.

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