Cover image for Wade in the water : poems
Title:
Wade in the water : poems
Author:
Smith, Tracy K., author.
ISBN:
9781555978136
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Graywold printing.
Physical Description:
83 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Poems.
Abstract:
"In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America?s contemporary moment both to our nation?s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith?s signature voice?inquisitive, lyrical, and wry?turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of The Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors? reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America?s essential poets."--Amazon.com

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Status
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 811.6 SMI Adult NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize
Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection

The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States

Even the men in black armor, the ones
Jangling handcuffs and keys, what else

Are they so buffered against, if not love's blade
Sizing up the heart's familiar meat?

We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat.
Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.

Love: naked almost in the everlasting street,
Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze.

--from "Unrest in Baton Rouge"

In Wade in the Water , Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America's contemporary moment both to our nation's fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith's signature voice--inquisitive, lyrical, and wry--turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of The Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors' reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America's essential poets.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* 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. Smith begins with ravishing lyrics of earthy spirituality. Two angels appear in a motel room: Grizzled, / in leather biker gear. In Hill Country, the rolling cadence traces the journey of God himself across rising and falling terrain in a jeep with the windows down. The title poem subtly captures the struggle between belief in a higher love and the cruel reality of the old South. Smith then illuminates personal perspectives on the Civil War in artistic feats of erasure and extraction, including a long poem composed of judiciously selected excerpts from letters to President Lincoln by black soldiers and their mothers and wives, heartrending testimony to the dire deprivation of those who risked their lives for the Union, yet were denied the most fundamental compensation. Smith is equally arresting in poems about contemporary injustices, including Watershed, a stunning response to the consequences of a corporation's unconscionable dumping of carcinogenic chemical waste. The sacred and the malevolent are astutely juxtaposed in this beautifully formed, deeply delving, and caring volume.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

History is in a hurry," writes Smith in her first collection since the Pulitzer-winning Life on Mars, and these lyrical meditations on class, environmental threat, and America's bloody heritage prove that the current U.S. poet laureate is plenty capable of keeping up with that "ship forever setting sail." Readers familiar with Smith's work will feel at home in "this dark where the earth floats." Some poems inhabit a more boldly theological space than does previous work, yet Smith's sense of the numinous stays appealingly grounded, as when she describes the "everlasting self" as "Gathered, shed, spread, then/ Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love/ From a lifetime ago, and mud/ A dog has tracked across the floor." Whether presenting a sardonic erasure of the Declaration of Independence or dramatizing the correspondence between black Civil War soldiers and their wives, Smith nimbly balances lyricism and direct speech. In "Annunciation," she boldly states, "I've turned old. I ache most/ To be confronted by the real,/ the pitiless, the bleak." But a wry playfulness leavens her weightier concerns, and she leaves a small window open on her private self: "Flying home, I snuck a wedge of brie, and wept/ Through a movie starring Angelina Jolie." Smith remains a master whose technical skill enhances her emotional facilities, one ever able to leave readers "feeling pierced suddenly/ By pillars of heavy light." (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In the newest work by America's current Poet Laureate Smith (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars), the personal and political, historical and contemporary merge in a collection that not only addresses issues the United States is facing today-attitudes toward immigrants in "The United States Welcomes You" and water poisoned by corporate greed and indifference in "Watershed," for example-but also gives voice to enslaved people in the Civil War era. What in lesser hands could be jarring here becomes a lyric tapestry, weaving poems created from the actual writings of the enslaved together with highly personal and immediate works. This allows listeners to come to understand that seemingly disparate events and experiences are, in many ways, connected on a very human level. The poems themselves are artful in the best meaning of the word; this is a writer working at the height of her craft. That these poems are then read by Smith herself gives them an extra vibrancy, allowing listeners to hear the nuances of meter and stresses as the poet wishes us to hear them. VERDICT A powerful collection that highlights all of Smith's strengths as a poet. Highly recommended. ["Technically accomplished and precisely attuned to our current cultural climate, Smith, like William Butler Yeats, once again demonstrates how an engaged, activist poetry need not forgo lyricism, compassion, and complexity to be effective": LJ 2/15/18 review of the Graywolf hc.]-Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

I Garden of Edenp. 5
The Angelsp. 6
Hill Countryp. 8
Deadlyp. 10
A Man's Worldp. 11
The World Is Your Beautiful Younger Sisterp. 12
Realm of Shadesp. 13
Driving to Ottawap. 14
Wade in the Waterp. 15
II Declarationp. 19
The Greatest Personal Privationp. 20
Unwrittenp. 23
I Will Tell You the Truth about This, I Will Tell You All about Itp. 24
Ghazalp. 38
III The United States Welcomes Youp. 41
New Road Stationp. 42
Theatrical Improvisationp. 43
Unrest in Baton Rougep. 46
Watershedp. 47
Political Poemp. 54
IV Eternityp. 59
Ashp. 62
Beatificp. 63
Charityp. 64
In Your Conditionp. 65
p. 66
Duskp. 68
Urban Youthp. 70
The Everlasting Selfp. 71
Annunciationp. 72
Refugep. 73
An Old Storyp. 75
Notesp. 77
Acknowledgmentsp. 83

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