Tracy K. Smith has been named the 22nd poet laureate of the United States by the librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. In a statement, Hayden said Smith's writing "brings history and memory to life" and "calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion, and pop culture," NPR reports.
Smith, 45, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection Life on Mars. She said of her new role as poet laureate: "I think the responsibility really is to just help raise the awareness of poetry and its value in our culture. To me that means talking to people — getting off the usual path of literary festivals and university reading series and talking to people who might not even yet be readers of poetry. I would love to go to places where people might be struggling, where people might wonder if there are voices out there for them."
Juan Felipe Herrera is the current laureate; Smith's tenure will begin in September.