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Wade in the Water: Poems


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About the Author

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three previous poetry collections, including Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She teaches at Princeton University.


"Smith's new book is scorching in both its steady cognizance of America's original racial sins . . . and apprehension about history's direction. . . . These historical poems have a homely, unvarnished sort of grace."--The New York Times "The poems in Wade in the Water are full of memorable images nimbly put together by Smith's exquisite sense of timing and her feel for the kind of language appropriate to the poem."--The New York Times Book Review "Smith brings great intelligence and sensitivity to her poems, leading readers deeper into other people's stories--and ultimately into their own humanity."--The Washington Post"Smith's poetry is an awakening itself."--Vogue"In these poems, with both gentleness and severity, Smith generously accepts what is an unusually public burden for an American poet, bringing national strife home, and finding the global in the local.""With formal precision and clarity, Smith's poems dance the boundaries between private and public, give voice to the voiceless, and shine with a resolute spiritual vision."--San Francisco Chronicle "[Wade in the Water] considers the state of the union with characteristic grace. . . . Smith holds this chorus together quite beautifully, often embedding contrasting fragments of text and tone in classical forms and schemes."--Harper's"Smith is the country's poetic caretaker, calling both for collective reckoning and collective empathy."--The Atlantic "Wade in the Water . . . deftly covers 250 years of the American experience, from the refugee's plight to a company's toxic spill tothe complications of black motherhood."--Mother Jones"In lines that are as lyrical as they are wise . . . Smith makes connections between the current state of American culture and its history."--BuzzFeed"Deftly, Tracy K. Smith--the reigning poet laureate of the United States--illuminates America's generational wounds."--New York Magazine"Tracy K. Smith presents a clear-eyed portrait of the present, reconsiders the past and offers love as an ethical response to injustice. . . . As Smith traverses time and tragedy, she returns to the idea that love is a radical and transformative force, one with a political and public function."--Star Tribune (Minneapolis) "We are in good worlds with Smith leading the poetic charge, as Wade in the Water attests."--The Millions"The poems in Wade in the Water are--in classic Smith fashion--gorgeously nuanced in music and in feeling and occasionally offbeat in their logic. . . . Smith lands on the power of art and its ability to pierce us 'suddenly / By pillars of heavy light.'""Majestic. . . . This is a formally varied, masterful collection from the nation's poet laureate."--BookPage"Bolstered by an array of sources, the poems gaze outward and observe with an incredibly perceptive eye. The past presses up against the present, and empathy hums consistently below as a driving force behind the collection's explorations of religion, history, prejudice, and environmentalism."--The Adroit Journal "Readers will be moved by this carefully crafted collection. It is entirely new and innovative."--New York Journal of Books"Wade in the Water examines . . . injustice (political and personal) with sharp insight and telling detail. . . . While Smith repeatedly calls injustice and its perpetrators to account, her poems her poems also contain deep compassion and an insistence on hope."--Shelf Awareness"Tracy K. Smith weaves together past and present, personal and political in ways that are at once urgent and timeless."--The Arkansas International "On a craft level, these poems are impeccable. . . . I know brilliance when I read it and this book is brilliant."--Roxane Gay, Goodreads

"Poetry requires acts of exquisite selection and distillation that Smith, poet laureate of the United States, performs with virtuosity and passion throughout her profoundly affecting fourth collection. . . . The sacred and the malevolent are astutely juxtaposed in this beautifully formed, deeply delving, and caring volume."--Booklist, starred review

"For Smith, poetry is hospitable: accommodating whatever she is moved to write. Her work witnesses, protests and raises its own roof. . . . Smith emerges as a poet in charge of her own creation myth and a recorder of destructive realities."--The Observer (UK)

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