Tracy K Smith is new US poet laureate

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Tracy K Smith is the new poet laureate of the United States, it has been announced.  The poet laureate - Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States is the full title - is appointed by the librarian of Congress and fills the role for a year. Smith takes over from Juan Felipe Herrera.

Smith is director of creative writing at Princeton University, and has three poetry collections to her name - The Body’s Question (2003), Duende (2007), and Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer poetry prize, as well as a memoir titled Ordinary Light.

Her father served in the US air force and then worked as an engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope. She alludes to him throughout Life on Mars, and one of the poems in that collection, ‘My God, It’s Full of Stars’ - a phrase from Arthur C Clarke’s 2001 - ends with these lines that recall the Hubble’s initial malfunction:

 

     The first few pictures came back blurred, and I felt ashamed

     For all the cheerful engineers, my father and his tribe. The second time,

     The optics jibed. We saw to the edge of all there is —

 

     So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back

 

PHOTOGRAPH: RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS 

 

 

 

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