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Tracy K. Smith is the Fourth Black Woman to be Named U.S. Poet Laureate

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Tracy K. Smith has been appointed 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States.

Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and professor at Princeton University, was chosen for the position by Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress.

“It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching,” 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.”
The position is a malleable one. Smith told NPR, she hopes to broaden poetry's audience by "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 is the author of three books including the collection that won her the Pulitzer, Life on Mars.

She is the fourth Black woman to hold the position. Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove and Natasha Trethewey preceded her.

Smith begins the job in the fall and will hold the position for a year.

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