Poet laureate, WU alumnus passes away

| Managing Editor

William Jay Smith, a Washington University alumnus and former poet laureate, died last week at a hospital in Massachusetts. He was 97.

Smith, who was born in 1918, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1939, and a master’s in 1941, both in French literature. After serving in the Navy during World War II and continuing his studies as a Rhodes scholar, Smith was appointed the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, serving from 1968 to 1970.

The role, which has since been renamed the poet laureate consultant in poetry, entails coordinating the Library’s annual poetry series. Smith held the position four years after Howard Nemerov, a poet who worked at Washington University following his tenure.

Smith was also known for his work in translating poetry into English from several languages, including French, Dutch and Russian.

At the time of his death, Smith was a professor emeritus at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.

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