Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate by Library of Congress

Tracy K. Smith (Photograph © Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

by Sophia Nguyen via harvardmagazine.com

Tracy K. Smith has been named the new U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, succeeding Juan Felipe Herrera. While the role doesn’t carry many specific official duties, it has traditionally involved raising awareness of, and increasing access to, poetry. “I am excited about the kinds of social divides that poetry may be able not just to cross but to mend,” Smith said in an interview with the library.

“One of my favorite things in the world is to sit and talk quietly about the things poems cause me to notice and remember, the feelings they teach me to recognize, the deep curiosity about other people’s lives that they foster. I am excited about carrying this conversation beyond literary festivals and university classrooms, and finding ways that poems might genuinely bring together people who imagine they have nothing to say to one another.” Smith has authored four books of poetry, the most recent of which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Her memoir Ordinary Light was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015.

In later chapters, she describes going to Harvard (where she joined the Dark Room Collective) as her mother’s health began to fail. In poetry workshops, she writes, “I had discovered that sitting down with an idea and letting it unfold in words and sounds offered me not just pleasure but an indescribable comfort.” Her new collection, Wade in the Water, comes out next April.

To read full article, go to: Library of Congress names Harvard alumna Tracy K. Smith as new Poet Laureate | Harvard Magazine

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Receives 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement

Natasha (photo via blog.bestamericanpoetry.com)

Natasha Trethewey (photo via blog.bestamericanpoetry.com)

article by jbhe.com

Natasha Trethewey, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University and the former poet laureate of the United States, received the 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement from the Academy of American Poets. The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

In announcing the award, Marilyn Nelson, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, stated that “Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities. Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn and experience delight. The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”

Professor Trethewey is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and three other poetry collections. She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010).

To read more, go to: https://www.jbhe.com/2016/09/natasha-trethewey-awarded-the-2016-fellowship-for-distinguished-poetic-achievement/