Tracy K. Smith, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet who publishes with Graywolf Press of Minneapolis, has been named the Poet Laureate of the United States. Her 2017-2018 term will begin in September; she succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera.
Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for "Life on Mars," the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for "The Body's Question," and the James Laughlin Award for "Duende." She has also published a memoir, "Ordinary Light," a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015.
Her fourth collection, "Wade in the Water," will be published by Graywolf in 2018.
"Tracy K. Smith is the poet that we need as Poet Laureate right now," Graywolf executive editor Jeff Shotts said in a press release. "She shows us an America that is infinite and that is made of a boundless music." Shotts called her selection as poet laureate "inspiring," adding, "Her presence in the laureateship will be beautiful and enlivening."
Smith teaches at Princeton University and has been a Stegner Fellow. Previous poets laureate include Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Natasha Trethewey, Robert Pinsky and Billy Collins.
The poet laureate has few obligatory duties but opens and closes the literary season for the Library of Congress and seeks to raise the American public's awareness and appreciation of poetry.