Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author Tracy K. Smith is the nation’s newest official poet, after being named poet laureate by the Library of Congress on Wednesday.
In honor of her amazing distinction, here are five things to know about Smith and her amazing work.
- Smith is the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress since 1985, when the title was officially authorized by an Act of Congress. Before the current title was devised by Congress in 1985, the title was known as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
- She is the fourth African-American woman to ever hold the position since it began in 1937.
- The main aim of recent poet laureates has been to introduce poetry to people who would have never been exposed to it before, to get more people reading and writing poetry. The 45-year-old Smith has the same ambitions. She told the New York Times that she planned to visit small towns and rural areas to hold poetry events. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to take what I consider to be the good news of poetry to parts of the country where literary festivals don’t always go,” she said. “Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.”
- She told NPR that she wanted to take poetry to places where people might not think their voices are reflected out there. “I feel that as a person of color I've always been interested in the stories that are quiet and the stories that often get overlooked. I think that inevitably I'm aware of these margins and I'm curious about them because I know what it feels like to be [outside] of one,” she said.
- Smith has published three acclaimed books of poetry, the third of which, Life on Mars, won her a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. She is also the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light.
Congratulations to Smith!