Smith received degrees from Harvard and Columbia universities before becoming a fellow at Stanford and taking on various teaching positions. Since 2005, she has been assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton. Her two critically acclaimed poetry collections, The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, and Duende, recipient of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, were followed in May 2011 by her highly praised third poetry collection, the “largely elegiac” Life on Mars. Focusing on writing a memoir during her mentorship, she says of Hans Magnus Enzensberger, her mentor in the 2010-2011 Rolex Arts Initiative: “He has helped me to start thinking in a way that’s not exactly like a poet, to start thinking of characters.”
July 2017 Tracy K. Smith has received the greatest honour in poetry in the United States.
January 2016 Tracy K. Smith was a protégée in literature in 2010. Now the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer has come full circle as a role model and mentor herself.
October 2014 American composer Joshua Roman has set Tracy K. Smith’s poem, Life on Mars, to music, creating a new interpretation of her work.