Creative Writing Past Faculty

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith headshot

Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths


Tracy K. Smith is the author of the memoir Ordinary Light and four books of poetry: Wade in the Water (April 2018); Life on Mars, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award; and The Body's Question, which won the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her fifth book of poetry, Such Color: New and Selected Poems, will be published in October 2021. Smith is also the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award and a Whiting Award. She was the Literature protégé in the 2009-2011 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. In June 2017 she was named the 22nd U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by the Library of Congress, and in March 2018 she was re-appointed to a second term for 2018-19.

Smith is represented by Barclay Agency. View her profile with Barclay Agency


Every weekday, U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivers a different way to see the world – through poetry. Produced in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Poetry Foundation.

Learn more and listen to The Slowdown

Reading — National Book Festival 2020

September 26, 2020 — As part of the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival, Tracy K. Smith reads “The United States Welcomes You” from her collection of poetry, Wade in the Water: Poems (Graywolf).


Listen to interview: Tracy K. Smith with Krista Tippett — “On Being” | Podcast via WBEZ 91.5 Chicago; November 1, 2018


Tracy K. Smith Explores Humans' Relationship With the Universe

Reading From 'My God, It's Full of Stars' by Tracy K. Smith

Read Selected Works

Article — “Why Poetry Is Essential to Democracy” | The Wall Street Journal

Live at The Aspen Institute

Tracy K. Smith at “Winter Words” via The Aspen Institute on Facebook Live:


Tracy K. Smith wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry” |  Princeton University News, April 16, 2012

Poetry, Puppets and Playgrounds” |  The New York Times, January 25, 2013

Tracy K. Smith Awarded an Academy of American Poets 2014 Fellowship

Librarian of Congress Names Tracy K. Smith Poet Laureate” | Library of Congress, June 14, 2017

NYT Interview: Tracy K. Smith Is the New Poet Laureate | The New York Times, June 14, 2017

NPR Interview With the New Poet Laureate — Tracy K. Smith 

Interview with Tracy K. Smith | Times Higher Education

Tracy K. Smith to Give Opening Reading as Poet Laureate Sept. 13, 2017”  |  Library of Congress

Why Poems Stick With Us Forever, According to the US Poet Laureate” | The Aspen Institute

Librarian of Congress Appoints Tracy K. Smith to Second Term as Poet Laureate | Library of Congress

Staying Human: Poetry in the Age of Technology — April 19, 2018, 7-9 PM, Library of Congress

Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith on America’s Troubled Racial History” | Vogue, April 2018

“Tracy K. Smith, America’s Poet Laureate, Is a Woman With a Mission” | The New York Times Magazine, April 10, 2018

Q&A with poet Tracy K. Smith | Financial Times Magazine, August 24, 2018

Poetry reading by young people has doubled since 2012” | Washington Post, September 12, 2018

Tracy K. Smith’s Wade in the Water shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize for Best Collection | Forward Arts Foundation

Tracy K. Smith’s Poetry of Desire | The New Yorker, Sept. 25, 2018

Tracy K. Smith, America’s Poet Laureate, Travels the Country to Ignite Our Imaginations | Smithsonian Magazine, Dec. 2018

Tracy K. Smith’s Wade in the Water listed among 100 Notable Books of 2018 | The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 2018

Tracy K. Smith: Ghost Writing,” featured on Articulate for PBS, Season 4, November 6, 2018

Suddenly, Poets Are More Willing to Address Public Concerns. The Poet Laureate Explores Why, and How” | The New York Times, Dec. 10, 2018

Tracy K. Smith’s Work Diary: The ‘Nonstop Rush’ of a Poet Laureate” | The New York Times, Jan. 24, 2019

Tracy K. Smith Talks Community, Consideration, and Revelation” | Santa Barbara Independent, Jan. 29, 2019

Tracy K. Smith ’94 to receive Arts Medal” | The Harvard Gazette, Jan. 29, 2019

Tracy K. Smith elected chief marshal — U.S. Poet Laureate to lead alumni at Harvard’s 368th Commencement” | The Harvard Gazette, March 7, 2019

Wade in the Water named the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner in Poetry” | Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, April 4, 2019

“Q&A: Tracy K. Smith on Poetry in the Heartland” | Life of the Mind — Princeton Alumni Weekly, September 11, 2019 issue

“Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd US Poet Laureate, on Why Poetry Is for Everyone” | Oprah Mag, October 22, 2019

“Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith on the purpose and power of poetry” | Vox, February 27, 2020

“Tracy K. Smith, member of Harvard Class of 1994, elected to Harvard’s Board of Overseers” | August 21, 2020

2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 25-27, 2020

On the Day of a Historic Vice Presidential Debate, Poet Tracy K. Smith Pays Tribute to Kamala Harris” | Vogue, October 7, 2020

My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems, Yi Lei, translated from the Chinese by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi, makes 2021 PEN America Literary Awards longlist | PEN America, December 22, 2020

“Natalie Diaz, Nikky Finney, and Tracy K. Smith Named Academy Chancellors in History Making Election” | Academy of American Poets, January 2021

New Commissioned Poem, “Travels Far” by Tracy K. Smith, featured in MTA Citywide Memorial for workers lost to COVID-19 | Curbed, January 25, 2021

Tracy K. Smith elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters | March 5, 2021