Boerum Hill Poet Tracy K. Smith Wins Pulitzer

April 17, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Before too long, every Brooklyn neighborhood will have a patron Pulitzer winner.

Last year, novelist Jennifer Egan brought her prize for fiction home to Fort Greene, and now the literary glory has traveled across Flatbush Avenue to hover above the Boerum Hill residence of poet Tracy K. Smith.

The local author was honored Monday with the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her latest collection, Life on Mars.

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Smith, who is an assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton University, wrote Life on Mars while pregnant in Brooklyn and remembering her recently passed father.

“This was a book that felt really important to me as I was writing it because on one level I was processing my private grief,” said Smith. “So I was thinking about what I wanted to imagine for myself and the scenario (my father) had now become a part of.”

In the book, Smith’s third poetry collection following Body’s Question and Duende, she explores those ideas and feelings through the lenses of science-fiction and cosmology. The interplanetary language and imagery dovetailed with her father, who worked on the Hubble Telescope.

“I really believe that writing is such a private and selfish act,” Smith said. “I was finding a language and a set of metaphors with which to flesh out some of my own preoccupations.”

The Eagle congratulates Ms. Smith and predicts that Gowanus is on deck for a Pulitzer.


—AP with reporting by Eli MacKinnon

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