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Wade in the Water

Poems
Tracy K. Smith
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. 

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$24.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-813-6
Format
Hardcover
Publication Date
Subject
Pages
96
Trim Size
6 x 9
The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Life on Mars

About the Author

Tracy K. Smith
Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Tracy K. Smith is the author of Wade in the Water; Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award; and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is also the editor of an anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, and the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 2017 to 2019, Smith served as Poet Laureate of the United States. She teaches at Princeton University.
 
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Upcoming Events

Tracy K. Smith reading at the South Lafourche Branch Library

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South Lafourche Branch Library in Cut Off, LAview map

Tracy K. Smith reading at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

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Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in San Francisco, CAview map
Tickets are $20.

Tracy K. Smith reading at the Lannan Foundation

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Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, NMview map
In conversation with Joy Harjo. Tickets are $5-8.

Praise

  • “Smith is the country’s poetic caretaker, calling both for collective reckoning and collective empathy.”The Atlantic
  • “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’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.”—NPR.org
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