US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith says her true self comes out in her work. Poetry, she says, helps her wrestle with dark, sometimes unresolvable questions. In this episode she reads new and old work that examines subjects like death, the afterlife, nature, and African American history. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light, and three books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars. Her book Wade in the Water is due out this spring. She was appointed the 22nd US Poet Laureate in 2017. She’s the first laureate appointed by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.