Princeton University professor and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith has been named Poet Laureate of the United States, and will take over from Juan Felipe Herrera in the Fall.
“I think the responsibility really is to just help raise the awareness of poetry and its value in our culture,” Smith told NPR. “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, who lives in Princeton, is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, and is the director of the Program in Creative Writing at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Her three books of poetry include “Life on Mars,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2012. Her 2015 memoir, “Ordinary Light,” was a National Book Award finalist.
The official duty of the Poet Laureate is “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry,” though different Poet Laureates, over the years, have done so in different ways.