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Tracy K. Smith

  • Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Image of Tracy K. Smith
Photo courtesy of Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and a professor of English and of African and African American Studies in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Smith received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third book of poems, Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011). She is the author of the memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the National Book Award for nonfiction, and three other books of poetry: Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018); Duende (Graywolf Press, 2007), recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and The Body’s Question (Graywolf Press, 2003), which was selected by Kevin Young for the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, awarded to Black poets of African descent for an exceptional first book. 

Smith served two terms as poet laureate of the United States (2017–2019), during which time she traveled across America, hosting poetry readings and conversations in rural communities. During her laureateship, she edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (Graywold Press, 2018) and launched the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown. In March 2021, Smith was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her fifth book of poetry, Such Color: New and Selected Poems, will be published by Graywolf in October 2021. 

With Changtai Bi, Smith co-translated My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems of Yi Lei (Graywolf Press, 2020), shortlisted for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize. With John Freeman, she coedited There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis (Vintage Books, 2021).

"Still Caught in a System That Makes Us Smaller Than We Could Be" (Harvard Gazette, 11/9/23)

Committee Named to Lead Legacy of Slavery Memorial Project (Harvard Gazette, 2/8/23)

Dreams of Land Deferred (Harvard Gazette, 8/1/22)

Naming the Things You Feel (Harvard Gazette, 9/23/21)

Our 2023–2024 Fellows

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