U.S. Poet Laureate, 2017-2019
Tracy K. Smith was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1972, and raised in Fairfield, California. She is the author of four books of poetry, including Wade in the Water (2018); Life on Mars (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Duende (2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award and the 2008 Essence Literary Award; and The Body’s Question (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction and selected as a Notable Book by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
For her poetry, Smith has received a Rona Jaffe Writers Award and a Whiting Award. In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded her with the Academy Fellowship, given to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2016, she won the 16th annual Robert Creeley Award and Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence.
Tracy K. Smith earned a BA in English and American literature and Afro-American studies from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999, she was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. Smith has taught at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. She is currently the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program, at Princeton University.
Poet Laureate Projects
- “American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities”
- American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time
- “The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith”