Skip to main content
Loading

2023 Literary Awards

The 2023 Literary Awards Reception, Awards Ceremony, and Reading with guest speaker Tracy K. Smith will be held on Thursday, April 20th. A schedule of events is forthcoming.


Tracy K Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the author of several collections of poetry, a memoir, and two librettos, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Smith received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third book of poems, Life on Mars. The collection draws on the genre of science fiction and is an elegy for her father and a meditation on human existence.  Smith’s debut collection, The Body’s Question, received the 2002 Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. Duende, Smith’s second book, received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2006. Her memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), was a finalist for the National Book Award and named a Notable Book by both the New York Times and Washington Post. Smith’s fourth book of poems, Wade in the Water, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (2019). Smith’s libretto for the opera Castor and Patience (2022), written in collaboration with composer Gregory Spears, is rooted in a conflict over historically black-owned land. The other libretto, written for A Marvelous Order (2022) with composer Judd Greenstein and video artist Joshua Frankel, is about two competing visions of progress in New York City. Her most recent book of poetry is Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2021).

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. She was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in March 2021.

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.


Sponsored by the Department of English, the Purdue University Libraries, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, and Modern Fiction Studies.