Alumna Tracy K. Smith '97 Awarded Harvard Arts Medal

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, January 28, 2019

Headshot of Tracy K. SmithWriting alumna, Tracy K. Smith '97, poet laureate of the United States, will receive the Harvard Arts Medal at the opening event of the University’s annual Arts First festival on May 2, 2019. Smith won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her collection Life on Mars; she is known for her lyrical, meditative poems. Her most recent collection, Wade in the Water (2018), is her most political.


The Arts Medal is awarded each year to a “Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good.” 


Smith is now a professor and the director of the creative writing program at Princeton University, and she resides in Princeton with her husband, Raphael Allison, and their three children. She is the author of the memoir Ordinary Light and four books of poetry: Wade in the Water (April 2018); Life on Mars, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award; and The Body's Question, which won the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award and a Whiting Award. In June 2017, she was named the 22nd U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by the Library of Congress, and in March 2018 she was re-appointed to a second term for 2018-19.