September 6, 2017

As new students made themselves at home, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City inspired poetry, research and soul-searching about the meaning of home and the impact of its loss in programs presented by SMU Reads in conjunction with the common reading discussion of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Desmond talked about his research and experiences at a free public program on campus on August 24.

“It’s an honor to be at SMU and an honor to have all these amazing, brilliant young minds engage in these morally urgent questions,” he said. “I love these big reads because they bring folks interested in science, the humanities, social science and everything together around this issue, and we certainly need a lot more minds around this issue.”

SMU sophomore Amit Banerjee, a public policy and engineering major, was inspired by Desmond’s book to research the issue of eviction in the Dallas area.

“I wanted to contextualize it to a place that I call home and that a lot of my peers will call home for the next several years,” he explained. “I learned that affordable housing and eviction are huge issues in Dallas.”

As a prelude to Desmond’s appearance, poet Fatima Hirsi set up her 1953 manual Smith Corona typewriter in Starbucks in Fondren Library on August 22 and talked to students about the meaning of home. Based on the interview, she crafted a short, personalized poem for each student.

Here’s an excerpt from one of her on-the-spot creations: