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Harvard Announces 2019 Arts Medal Winner

MAY 09, 2019

Harvard Arts Medal
Pulitzer prize winner Tracy K. Smith has joined the likes of other Harvard alumni Matt Damon, Margaret Atwood and Tommy Lee Jones in being awarded this years prestigious Harvard Arts Medal.

The Harvard Crimson reports the award was presented by University President Lawrence S. Bacow who said it was a “special honor” to grant Smith, the current US Poet Laureate, the accolade.

The award also marks the opening of Harvard’s annual Harvard Arts Festival.

The history of the medal dates back to 1995 when the university established a program to recognise excellence and demonstrated achievement in the arts by a Harvard or Radcliffe alumnus/a or faculty member.

According to Harvard’s Office for the Arts, it is given to an individual who has achieved ‘distinction in the arts and who has made a special contribution to the good of the arts, to the public good in relation to the arts, or to education.’

Since graduating from Harvard in 1994, Tracy K. Smith has made her mark on the literary world, publishing four books of poetry and winning numerous awards including the Cave Canem prize for best first book by an African-American poet and the James Laughlin and Essense Literary Award for poetry.

She continued her arts education at Columbia University, earning a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree and holding the Stegner fellowship at Stanford.

Harvard Arts Medal

Currently she holds the position of Professor of Creative Writing, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, and Director of the University’s Program in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Smith follows in the footsteps of other Harvard alumni who have made their mark in the arts world through writing, acting, architecture, composing, dancing and more.

As well as actor and screenwriter Matt Damon, Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood and actor Tommy Lee Jones, other winners have included actor John Lithgow, New York City Ballet former Principal Dancer Damian Woetzel and award winning architect Frank Gehry.

For a full list of winners see here.

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