Tracy K. Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry author, has been named as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States.
Smith was named the 22nd Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, National Public Radio reported. Smith, 45, was a poetry fellow at Stanford University and currently teaches at Princeton University.
"I think the responsibility really is to just help raise the awareness of poetry and its value in our culture," Smith told NPR about the honor. "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.
"I would love to go to places where people might be struggling, where people might wonder if there are voices out there for them," Smith continued.
Smith, who will take up her duties in the fall, replaces Juan Felipe Herrera as Poet Laureate, said a statement from the Library of Congress.
"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," Hayden said in the statement. "With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths — all to better understand what makes us most human."
Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2012 for her book "Life on Mars," according to the Library of Congress statement. She has two other books of poems to her credit – "Duende" in 2007, winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award, and "The Body's Question in 2003, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
She authored a memoir "Ordinary Light" in 2015, which was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction, the Library of Congress statement said.
Smith earned her bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a master's in creative writing from Columbia University, according to the Poetry Foundation.
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry has existed since 1937, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library, noted the Library of Congress.
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