In Sight

Pulitzer Winner Named National Poet

Photo: Frank Wojciechowski.

On June 14, the Library of Congress named Tracy K. Smith, 45, the new poet laureate of the United States.

Smith’s poetry has earned her numerous coveted awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2012 for her work Life on Mars. She currently serves as the director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.

The poet laureate is appointed annually by the Librarian of the United States Congress and serves from October to May. As the nation’s official poet, Smith, the 22nd person to receive the honor, will work to “raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” Among her goals: to help revive that early enthusiasm for poetry across the nation. It’s one antidote to her concern for how divided America feels today.

“Poetry can help us make sense of the contemporary moment,” she said, in a Washington Post article. “I’m excited by the fact that what poets are writing speaks to a particular moment and it speaks to the ages. Any political moment is uncertain, and a voice that lets us think about that will last. Let’s think about how empathy can drive our perspective of one another. Let’s think about how we can get past what’s binary and simplest to what’s complicated.”


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