NPR

Tracy K. Smith, New U.S. Poet Laureate, Calls Poems Her 'Anchor'

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet says she plans to use her new role to meet people who don't read poetry ... yet, anyway. She believes poetry can be a resource for people in fraught or isolating times.
The new poet laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, visits the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center in Washington, D.C., last month. Source: Shawn Miller

Tracy K. Smith knows many readers are intimidated by line breaks. She knows people don't like identifying consonance, assonance or alliteration.

But Smith — the newly announced 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States — wants to help America push past that anxiety.

"What do you hear? What do you feel? What does this remind you of?" she asks NPR. "These are all real and valid reactions to a poem."

The poet laureate is appointed by the librarian of Congress and fills the role for a year. Smith takes the mantle from Juan Felipe Herrera, who has served two terms.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement that Smith's work "brings history and

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