Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith, has been named the Library of Congress’ new poet laureate, the nation’s highest honor in that field.
Smith joins other luminaries in poetry who have held the position including African American, Rita Dove, and most recently, Juan Felipe Herrera.
According to the New York Times, Smith, 45, said she planned to use the position to be an evangelist of sorts, taking poetry to places that often don’t see or experience it.
“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.”
Smith is the 22nd poet to take on the position, which dates to 1937.
She graduated from Harvard with a degree in English and Afro-American studies. She received her M.F.A. from Columbia University and published her first collection, The Body’s Question, in 2003.
She is currently the director of the creative writing program at Princeton University, and has been working on a libretto for an opera composed by Gregory Spears, about the legacy of slavery in the South.
History is also a recurring theme in her forthcoming collection, Wade in the Water, which Graywolf Press will release next spring.