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Be Recorder

Carmen Giménez Smith
when my children found out
the tooth fairy wasn’t real
it was the death of innocence
and the beginning of a new world
they’ll recall in their old age
as the days when we had
to begin to start over even
the hope myths keeping
us afloat revised to include
the bodies we used as ballast
not the end of innocence
but the beginning of futurity
rousing the earth to avenge
our bodies her munitions
—from “Be Recorder”
Be Recorder offers readers a blazing way forward into an as yet unmade world. The many times and tongues in these poems investigate the precariousness of personhood in lines that excoriate and sanctify. Carmen Giménez Smith turns the increasingly pressing urge to cry out into a dream of rebellion—against compromise, against inertia, against self-delusion, and against the ways the media dream up our complacency in an America that depends on it. This reckoning with self and nation demonstrates that who and where we are is as conditional as the fact of our compliance: “Miss America from sea to shining sea / the huddled masses have a question / there is one of you and all of us.” Be Recorder is unrepentant and unstoppable, and affirms Giménez Smith as one of our time’s most vital and vivacious poets.

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Carmen Giménez Smith dares to demand renewal for a world made unrecognizable

About the Author

Carmen  Gimenez Smith
Credit: Adam Fitzgerald/Krista Kahl
 Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of six books, including Be Recorder, Milk and Filth, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry, and Bring Down the Little Birds, winner of the American Book Award. She teaches at Virginia Tech University.
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Upcoming Events

Graywolf at 45: Poetry reading co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation

Poetry Foundation in Chicago, ILview map

A poetry reading featuring Nick Flynn (I Will Destroy You), Carmen Giménez Smith (Be Recorder), Erika L. Sánchez (Lessons on Expulsion), Diane Seuss (Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl), and Tom Sleigh (House of Fact, House of Ruin). Co-sponsored by and hosted at the Poetry Foundation.

Free and open to the public, with reception to follow.


  • “Carmen Giménez Smith criticizes the new normal and challenges us to be anything but comfortable in today's society.”—Bustle
  • “Stunning. . . . With a prophetic voice rooted in awareness of a dying planet, 20 poems and a middle lyric sequence are impressively served by Smith’s ear for pithy encapsulation.”Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
  • "Be Recorder is indispensable, required for the next evolution. This is the one. Giménez Smith is going to take it all down.”—Juan Felipe Herrera
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