Tracy K. Smith was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. She earned a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. Her book, Life on Mars (2011), won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In 2014 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets fellowship. She has also written a memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. In June 2017, Smith was named U.S. poet laureate. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University.