Cover Photo: on the left, a photo of author, poet, and journalist Clint Smith; on the right, the cover of his new book, HOW THE WORD IS PASSED: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
Photograph of Clint Smith by Carletta Girma

“I hope people consider the different ways history can be told”: A Conversation with Clint Smith

“Who we are, what our identities and backgrounds and politics are, all of these things animate how we experience a place.”

How the Word Is Passed

Counting DescentThe AtlanticThe New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris ReviewLast month, we spoke about his path to writing and publishing, the importance of community, how he writes across and blends different genres, and what studying and crafting poetry taught him about prose.

not

thisI don’t know what this is, but I want to do it.

“I’d never seen spoken-word poetry live. I left thinking, I don’t know what this is, but I want to do it.” 

The Guardian

The New Yorker. The New Yorker

need

The New Yorker

Counting DescentThe Atlantic

How the Word Is Passed

Who are the people in New Orleans and in other places trying to tell a different story?

Counting Descent

How the Word Is Passed The Hemingses of Monticello

The book is also, in a sense, an ode to public historians. A historian writes a book that’s intense, deeply detailed, and written for an academic audience. Public historians read those books and translate that into something someone can use on a sixty-minute tour. And I don’t think it’s about which one is better, but about an ecosystem of academic and public historians and tour guides and visitors all engaging with history—we can all be in conversation.

Nicole Chung is the author of the national bestseller All You Can Ever Know  and Catapult’s digital editorial director. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Guardian, and TIME, among others. Find her on Twitter: @nicolesjchung