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Latest News: Poet Laureate Launches "The Slowdown"

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith tours a school in New Mexico as part of her project “American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities” in January 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller, Library of Congress.

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will soon bring the power of poetry to listeners across the globe as host of a weekday podcast and radio feature titled “The Slowdown.

The five-minute program encourages listeners to make a daily space for poetry in an increasingly busy and chaotic world.

“Poetry isn’t an escape or even a luxury,” Smith said. “I’d argue it’s a necessity, a means of living more deeply with reality.”

The celebrated poet will read works by writers from around the country and the world and explore how poetry helps us better understand life, history, art, science and more. The show will debut on podcast platforms in November; it will be made available to public radio stations nationwide early next year.

“I'm excited to continue the work I've done as poet laureate in celebrating poems and the conversations they foster. And thanks to technology’s ability to collapse the distance between people – to give you the feeling that there is one person out there speaking directly and only to you – geography is no longer a barrier to participation,” Smith said. “I think this is a perfect medium for talking about the very real and natural ways that poems speak to the daily experience of being alive.”

Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is serving her second year as the nation’s 22nd poet laureate. In this role, she has focused on connecting with rural areas by visiting states across the country through her project "American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities." Smith aims to spark conversations that prove poetry helps readers and listeners slow down, think more passionately and deeply, and see the world through the eyes of others.

Made possible through funding by the Poetry Foundation, the Chicago-based independent literary organization and publisher of Poetry magazine, and the support of the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center, “The Slowdown” is produced by American Public Media (APM) and will launch on podcast platforms on Nov. 26. “The Slowdown” will be made available for broadcast on public radio stations across the United States beginning Jan. 14.

Listen to a trailer for “The Slowdown” and subscribe here: External

“We are thrilled to continue our commitment to poetry and to introduce it to new audiences,” said Dave Kansas, executive vice president and chief content officer for American Public Media Group. “‘The Slowdown’ will bring in new and more voices to the poetry scene, while also reaching existing fans with a deep appreciation for this type of literary work.”

“As poet laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith is in a unique position to expand appreciation of poetry across the nation and show us that poetry helps readers better understand the world,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We are proud to partner with American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation to help bring her voice to the nation.”

“Tracy K. Smith brings a fresh and accessible spirit to poetry, and soon, into the homes and earbuds of Americans,” said Henry Bienen, Poetry Foundation president. “‘The Slowdown’ is a perfect extension of our mission to find new and exciting ways for people to connect with poems.”

Listeners can find “The Slowdown” on Apple Podcasts and all podcast platforms beginning Nov. 26. Public radio broadcasting details for “The Slowdown” will be announced this winter.

About American Public Media American Public Media® is the national programming division of Minnesota Public Radio® External and reaches nearly 21 million listeners via more than 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programs in the nation. APM offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. For more information on APM, visit External

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About the Library of Congress The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1937. The Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at

About the Poetry Foundation The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.

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