Meet Tracy K. Smith, America’s New Poet Laureate

Smith won Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for her poetry collection, 'Life on Mars.'

June 14, 2017 1:26 pm
Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate
Poet Tracy K. Smith attends the 17th annual Poets House Poetry Walk Across The Brooklyn Bridge on June 11, 2012 in New York City. (Jim Spellman/WireImage)

True poets are able to see into the life of the mind, an art not always given its proper due at a time when pop culture is fixated on Justin Bieber lyrics.

But today is about celebrating real wordsmiths: The Library of Congress has named Tracy K. Smith as America’s 22nd United States poet laureate.

It’s an honorary title that’s been around since 1937 and has been bestowed on some of our nation’s greatest poets, including William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost (he of “The Road Not Taken”), and Robert Penn Warren (also known for his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, All the King’s Men).

“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 told The New York Times. “Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.”

In 2012, Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Life on Mars. (Read one of its excerpted poems, “My G-d, It’s Full of Stars” through the link.)

Hear Smith read from her Pulitzer Prize–winning collection below.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.