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Focus on poetry

19 June 2017

Tracy K Smith has been named US Poet Laureate and in the UK National Writing Day has brought a focus on poetry, with two new articles available from the Poetry School.

Carla Hayden, the new librarian of Congress, said in announcing the one-year appointment: "It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching. Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths - all to better understand what makes us most human."

Smith has published three books of poetry and, although a well-known poet, she is not in the traditional mould of American poet laureates, who have tended to be older and often male, more establishment figures.

Poets don't have it easy and there's general agreement that poetry doesn't make you a living, or not unless you're very successful. For poets the rapid expansion of creative writing classes, often taught by poets, has been a life-saver. So has the rise in interest in poetry readings, which publicise the poets' work and sell books, as part of developing an audience for their work.

As part of National Writing Day in the UK on 21 June the Poetry School has commissioned two articles, one on Working as a Poet and the other on Setting Up a Small Press, which show how it can be done.