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Keeping Up with the Laureate

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Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith visits the Poetry and Literature Center, May 22, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.

These days, so much is going on with our Poet Laureate that it’s difficult for our office to keep up! I’m off to Maine in just a few days for the third trip in Tracy’s “American Conversations” fall tour. Our first such trip to Alaska is featured online; pictures, interviews, and other content from our South Dakota trip will soon be up as well.

In addition to her travels for “American Conversations” and the project’s related anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, Tracy is also getting ready for the airwaves! Her show “The Slowdown” has received good press, and I can’t wait until it starts up in November as a podcast and especially in January as a radio broadcast (a feeling I share with our laureate’s editor).

In between all of this official activity, Tracy has found the time to do some wonderful interviews—including in my home state of Wisconsin, as well as just a few miles down the road from the capital. It’s part of what makes the laureateship position so powerful—the ability to speak to communities across the country, in person and through various media.

Finally, I’m happy to say that our friends over at the Smithsonian are sharing the love for Tracy! Last week the institution announced that she will receive one of its Innovation Awards. We’ve known about this for quite some time, actually—as part of the honor, winners are featured in Smithsonian magazine. The writer of Tracy’s article, Jessie Katz, accompanied us on our Alaska “American Conversations” trip! I’m eager to see Jessie’s article, and I’m so happy for all Tracy is doing to champion poetry.