Poet and educator Tracy K. Smith has been named the new U.S. Poet Laureate. Smith, whose appointment was announced by the Library of Congress this morning, will serve as the country’s official poet for a one-year term.
“It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching,” Librarian of Congress Carla 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, 45, has published three collections of poetry and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 work, Life on Mars.
She succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera and is the fourth African-American to be named named U.S. Poet Laureate.