Tracy K. Smith

Born in Massachusetts, Tracy K. Smith earned her BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she held a Stegner fellowship at Stanford University. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: THE BODY'S QUESTION (2003), which won the Cave Canem prize for the best first book by an African-American poet; DUENDE (2007), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Essense Literary Award; and LIFE ON MARS (2011), which won the 2012 Pulizer Prize for Poetry. Smith teaches creative writing at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn. Her acclaimed memoir, ORDINARY LIGHT (2015), is on the shortlist for the 2015 National Book Awards.


Ordinary Light

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: a deeply moving memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

"Evocative . . . a subtle, elegant meditation that reveals the profound in the quotidian . . . . Like a Noguchi table, Smith's prose is sturdy, functional and at the same time exquisitely beautiful . . . a moving and thought-provoking meditation. ORDINARY LIGHT glows not from the flare-ups of dramatic conflict and trauma, but from the steadier supply of insight derived from the habits and gradual transformations of everyday life." - San Francisco Chronicle

"Her writing is both precise and transcendent, so that when Smith digs deeper into her black rural roots - origins her parents were eager to put behind them - her revelations about identity, religion, and family feel as momentous as anything Barack Obama once put between covers." - Boris Kachka,

Terre Roche, O, the Oprah Magazine: "Sublime . . . a feast, one of startling insight into the complex doings of average people. Smith writes about her childhood with humor and acute insight . . . a riveting read."

"It's rare that a memoir is so emotionally engaging that a reader may wish to reach back through time and envelop the author in a warm parental hug. But that's the impulse poet Tracy K. Smith engenders." - Book Page

"ORDINARY LIGHT is a lament, an homage, a discovery, a blessing." - Jane Ciabattari, BBC