Tracy K. Smith Appointed U.S. Poet Laureate

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Jun 14 2017
Tracy K. Smith: Photo credit: Tina Chang

The Library of Congress announced today that Tracy K. Smith has been appointed the twenty-second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Following Juan Felipe Herrera, who served two one-year terms, Smith will begin her tenure in September, opening the library's literary season with a reading of her poetry. 

“It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching,” Hayden said. “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.”

Of her appointment, Smith said, "I am profoundly honored. As someone who has been sustained by poems and poets, I understand the powerful and necessary role poetry can play in sustaining a rich inner life and fostering a mindful, empathic and resourceful culture. I am eager to share the good news of poetry with readers and future readers across this marvelously diverse country.”

Smith received the 2014 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a $25,000 prize awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. She also received the 2006 James Laughlin Award for her second book, Duende (Graywolf Press, 2007). Her collection Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In 2015, Smith served as the judge for the Walt Whitman Award, selecting Sjohnna McCray's debut, Rapture.

Smith's other honors include receiving a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, a 2004 Rona Jaffe Writers Award, a 2008 Essence Literary Award, and a 2005 Whiting Award. She is the director of Princeton University’s creative writing program.

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