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Tracy Smith
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It’s been an exhilarating week for me, reading quickly and deeply, and then finding the words to record the flurry of emotions unleashed by each successive voice. And recording these reflections has been a matter of speaking into an invisible space that has felt reassuringly companionable. If you’re reading this, I want to thank you for being here to listen and, on occasion, answer back. I want to nod quickly to each of the poets whose work has surprised and inspired me so far this past week: Ross Gay, Traci Brimhall, Jericho Brown, Jacqueline Jones LaMon and Craig Morgan Teicher.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Years ago, one of my professors spent the first half hour of our first class of the term reading us Italo Calvino’s version of an Italian folktale called “The Parrot,” about a merchant who must depart for a journey, leaving his daughter home alone for several days. Worried for his daughter’s safety, the merchant gives her strict instructions to admit no one during his absence, and purchases a parrot to entertain and keep her company until he returns. The parrot tells the girl a long story, and in so doing successfully foils the attempts of a wicked king to steal... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
To be embarrassingly honest, I was a little frightened to actually sit down with Last Seen, by Jacqueline Jones LaMon. It’s a collection about African American children who have gone missing, and I worried that the mother in me would not be able to take it. I spent a moment in crisis after glancing one of the titles in Section Two: “For My Husband, Who Took Our Daughter to the Park So I Could Get Some Rest, Then Fell Asleep and Awakened to an Empty Stroller.” But how often do I find myself talking about the importance of risk in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Today, I’m thinking about community. The people who constitute home for us. The ones who keep us from getting lost, losing track of where we are going or who we are in the process of becoming. The ones we watch sometimes in silence, proud and inspired by what their hands and heads and hearts have managed to do. Perhaps community is such an important part of my world view because I am a writer, which means that I have chosen to devote a great portion of my energy to an extremely solitary act. I crave the solitude it takes to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Sometimes I think that poetry is a kind of church. The church I’ve been looking for all my life, where nobody tries to sleuth out whether you’ve been sinning all week, and where the sermon comes from every direction, surprising you at every turn. Where you feel your skin bristling with delight because of the imagination and the courage and the genuine belief in something unspeakably holy. All week long, day and night, poetry’s congregants are listening to something that comes from inside and above, from behind and beneath, from the great distances we don’t yet know how to name.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Last night I watched Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.” A friend had urged me to see it because she sensed a strong affinity between what it is reaching and yearning toward and the questions and metaphors running through my most recent book: God, death, the beyond, the within, birth, the need to believe in some kind of order— some underlying current and the idea that it is carrying us toward a meaningful purpose or end. The film is broad and beautiful and vague, lyrical and oneiric, longing and angry and forgiving. And it allows its narrative to live within powerful... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Jun 5, 2011