William Jay Smith

William Jay Smith served as Poet Laureate from 1968 to 1970. His poetry has been set to music by Ned Rorem (in What is Pink? for treble voices and piano) and Warren Benson, as well as several other American composers.

Photo: William Jay Smith, by Robert Turney, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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“Smith was born in Louisiana but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s from Washington University in St. Louis. Besides his 10 collections of poetry, Smith wrote criticism, translations and children’s literature. He is particularly noted for his translations of French, Hungarian, Dutch and Brazilian poetry. Smith taught at Williams College, Columbia University and Hollins College. His most recent work is The World Beneath the Window: Poems 1937-1997.”

–Library of Congress Poets Laureate page

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