Tracy K. Smith named Poet Lau­re­ate for 2017

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. - Li­brar­ian of Con­gress Carla Hay­den re­cently an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Tracy K. Smith as the Li­brary’s 22nd Poet Lau­re­ate Con­sul­tant in Poetry, for 20172018. Smith will take up her du­ties in the f all, open­ing the Li­brary’s an­nual lit­er­ary sea­son in Septem­ber with a read­ing of her work at the Coolidge Au­di­to­rium.

Smith, a Pulitzer Prizewin­ning poet and a pro­fes­sor at Prince­ton Univer­sity, suc­ceeds Juan Felipe Her­rera as Poet Lau­re­ate.

“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.”

“I am pro­foundly hon­ored,” Smith said. “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 joins a long line of dis­tin­guished po­ets who have served in the po­si­tion, in­clud­ing Juan Felipe Her­rera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Don­ald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stan­ley Ku­nitz, Robert Pin­sky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

The new Poet Lau­re­ate is the au­thor of three books of poetry, in­clud­ing “Life on Mars” (2011), win­ner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; “Duende” (2007), win­ner of the 2006 James Laugh­lin Award and the 2008 Essence Lit­er­ary Award; and “The Body’s Question” (2003), win­ner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the au­thor of a mem­oir, “Or­di­nary Light” (2015), a fi­nal­ist for the 2015 Na­tional Book Award in nonfiction and se­lected as a no­table book by the New York Times and the Wash­ing­ton Post.

For her poetry, Smith has re­ceived a Rona Jaffe Writ­ers Award and a Whit­ing Award. In 2014, the Academy of Amer­i­can Po­ets awarded her with the Academy Fel­low­ship, given to one poet each year to rec­og­nize dis­tin­guished poetic achieve­ment. In 2015, she won the 16th an­nual Robert Cree­ley Award and in 2016 was awarded Columbia Univer­sity’s Medal for Ex­cel­lence.

In the Pulitzer Prize ci­ta­tion for “Life on Mars,” judges lauded its “bold, skill­ful po­ems, tak­ing read­ers into the uni­verse and mov­ing them to an au­then­tic mix of joy and pain." Toi Der­ri­cotte, poet and Academy of Amer­i­can Po­ets chan­cel­lor, said “the sur­faces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beau­ti­ful and serene, but un­der­neath, there is al­ways a sense of an un­known vast­ness. Her po­ems take the risk of invit­ing us to imag­ine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in an­other per­son’s shoes.”

Born in Fal­mouth, Mas­sachusetts in 1972, and raised in Fair­field, Cal­i­for nia, Tracy K. Smith earned a B.A. in English and Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture and Afro-Amer­i­can stud­ies from Har­vard Univer­sity and an M.F.A. in cre­ative writ­ing from Columbia Univer­sity. From 1997 to 1999, she was a Steg­ner Fel­low in poetry at Stan­ford Univer­sity. Smith has taught at Medgar Evers Col­lege of the City Univer­sity of New York, at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh and at Columbia Univer­sity. She is cur­rently the Roger S. Ber­lind ’52 Pro­fes­sor in the Hu­man­i­ties and di­rec­tor of the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram at Prince­ton Univer­sity.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINCE­TON UNIVER­SITY

Tracy K. Smith named Poet Lau­re­ate

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEWIS CEN­TER FOR THE ARTS

Tracy K. Smith won numer­ous awards in­clud­ing the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; “Duende” (2007), win­ner of the 2006 James Laugh­lin Award and the 2008 Essence Lit­er­ary Award; and “The Body’s Question” (2003), win­ner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the au­thor of a mem­oir, “Or­di­nary Light” (2015), a fi­nal­ist for the 2015 Na­tional Book Award in nonfiction and se­lected as a no­table book by the New York Times and the Wash­ing­ton Post.

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