On Wednesday, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden named Tracy K. Smith the next poet laureate consultant in poetry. Smith is the 22nd poet laureate since the title was created in 1937. She will take over for current laureate Juan Felipe Herrera in September.
Tracy K. Smith is the author of four award-winning books. Her debut poetry collection, 2003's The Body's Question, won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. In 2007, Smith published another collection, Duende, which took home both the James Laughlin and Essence Literary Awards. Her 2011 collection Life on Mars won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and was dubbed "[a] collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain." Smith's latest work is her 2015 memoir, Ordinary Light, which was shortlisted for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. A fourth collection, Wade in the Water, is expected to be published by Graywolf Press in 2018.
In a press release from her publisher, Smith says of her appointment: "I am so deeply honored to have been appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and I'm thrilled that the position of Poet Laureate will allow me to profess my deep and ongoing conviction that poetry really does matter to an even broader national audience."
Read an excerpt from new U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith's Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Life on Mars, below:
"The Good Life"
When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.
Images: Rachel Eliza Griffiths