September 13, 2017—Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith kicked off her tenure as Poet Laureate of the United States with her inaugural reading in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Smith was introduced at the event by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, and she was joined in the program by the first national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman


In an interview before the program with Ron Charles of The Washington Post, Smith said, “I go to a lot of writers conferences and literary festivals that tend to be in college towns or cities, and I’m eager to see what happens if those same texts and those same questions move outside of those areas to smaller rural communities where there are surely people who read and love poetry. I am eager to see how that conversation will change and what poems speak to that is relevant to lives in other places.”



When she was appointed to the position in June, Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts said, “Tracy K. Smith is the poet that we need as Poet Laureate right now. Across three published poetry collections, and in her forthcoming one, she shows us an America that is infinite and that is made of a boundless music. Smith’s appointment is an inspiring choice, and her presence in the laureateship will be beautiful and enlivening. All of us at Graywolf celebrate Tracy and this remarkable and deserving honor.”





Graywolf has published three collections of poetry by Tracy K. Smith: The Body's Question (2003), Duende (2007), and Life On Mars (2011), which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. It was recently announced in Publishers Weekly that Graywolf acquired Smith’s fourth poetry collection, Wade in the Water, for publication in April 2018. In this new work—inquisitive, lyrical, and wry—Smith turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist, and boldly ties America’s contemporary moment to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit. 



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The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.


Tracy K. Smith is the author of The Body’s Question, which received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Duende, which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; Life on Mars, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; the acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015); and Wade in the Water (Graywolf, forthcoming 2018). She has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She is currently the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.