Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, has announced the appointment of Tracy K. Smith as the next Poet Laureate of the United States. She will begin her new duties to promote the reading and writing of poetry in the United States this fall.
“I am profoundly honored,” Smith said after receiving news of the appointment. “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.”
Tracy Smith is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, and director of the university’s Program in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts. She joined the faculty at Princeton in 2005 and was named director of the creative writing program in 2015.
Professor Smith is the author of three books of poetry, including Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She is also the author of the memoir Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction.
A native of Falmouth, Massachusetts, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature and Afro-American studies at Harvard University. She holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University.
Below is a video of Professor Smith reading one of her poems.