We throw around the term “poet laureate” a lot, but can you imagine having the official designation?
Well, meet Tracy K. Smith, who is just that official. The Library of Congress has named the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer the United States Poet Laureate!
The 45-year-old writer is America’s 22nd Poet Laureate, and follows right after 68-year-old Juan Felipe Herrera. With three poetry books and a memoir under her belt, Smith is certainly deserving of such a distinction!
“I am profoundly honored … 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,” Smith said in a press release. “I am eager to share the good news of poetry with readers and future readers across this marvelously diverse country.”
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden made the decision and has the utmost confidence that Smith is deserving of the honor. “It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching … 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,” said Hayden.
Currently serving as the director of Princeton University’s creative writing program, Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, Life on Mars in 2011.
While there are no official duties of the poet laureate, the designated person is encouraged to facilitate more awareness around poetry.
What does that mean to Smith? “To me that means talking to people — getting off the usual path of literary festivals and university reading series and talking to people who might not even yet be readers of poetry,” Smith told NPR.
Congrats to Tracy K. Smith!! Just another reminder how much black girls rock!