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About this poet

Maggie Smith was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1977. She received a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University in Ohio and an MFA from Ohio State University.

She is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), named one of the Best Five Poetry Books of 2017 by the Washington Post and winner of the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry. The title poem from this collection has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. In 2017, actress Meryl Streep read “Good Bones” at the Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala at Lincoln Center.

Smith’s poetry is known for its lyrical clarity and sharp rendering of a mother’s relationship to her children. The poet Ada Limón says of her poetry, “Smith’s voice is clear and unmistakable as she unravels the universe, pulls at a loose thread and lets the whole thing tumble around us, sometimes beautiful, sometimes achingly hard.”

Her other books include The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the 2012 Dorset prize and a 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award; and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), winner of the 2003 Benjamin Saltman Award. Smith is also the author of three chapbooks: Disasterology (Dream Horse Press, 2016); The List of Dangers (Kent State/Wick Poetry Series, 2010); and Nesting Dolls (Pudding House, 2005).

A 2011 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has also received six Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She works as a freelance writer and editor and serves as a consulting editor to the Kenyon Review. She lives in Bexley, Ohio.

In March 2019, Smith will serve as the guest editor for Poem-a-Day Read more about her curatorial approach for this month.



Bibliography

Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017),
The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015),
Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005)

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

This poem originally appeared in Waxwing, Issue 10, in June 2016. Used with permission of the author.

This poem originally appeared in Waxwing, Issue 10, in June 2016. Used with permission of the author.

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005). 

by this poet

poem

In what I think is a dream,
I look at some manifestation of the past

& say, I know you’re not real. Someone has to.
As most dream-things do, the past

shapeshifts, reconstitutes itself with new
eyes & a new haircut—the past

made over—& then I forget its name.

poem
Let us praise the ghost gardens
of Gary, Detroit, Toledo—abandoned

lots where perennials wake
in competent dirt and frame the absence

of a house. You can hear
the sound of wind, which isn’t

wind at all, but leaves touching.
Wind itself can’t speak. It needs another

to chime against, knock around.
Again and
poem

When my daughter drizzles gold
on her breakfast toast, I remind her

she’s seen the bee men in our tree,
casting smoke like a spell until

the swarm thrums itself to sleep.
She’s seen them wipe the air clean

with smoke, the way a hand smudges
chalk from a slate, erasing