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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)

Poem Beginning with a Line from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Just look—nothing but sincerity 
as far as the eye can see—
the way the changed leaves,
 
flapping their yellow underbellies
in the wind, glitter. The tree
looks sequined wherever
 
the sun touches. Does anyone
not see it? Driving by a field
of spray-painted sheep, I think
 
the world is not all changed.
The air still ruffles wool
the way a mother’s hand
 
busies itself lovingly in the hair
of her small boy. The sun
lifts itself up, grows heavy
 
treading there, then lets itself
off the hook. Just look at it
leaving—the sky a tigereye
 
banded five kinds of gold
and bronze—and the sequin tree
shaking its spangles like a girl
 
on the high school drill team,
nothing but sincerity. It glitters
whether we’re looking or not.

Copyright © 2018 Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

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
The starlings choose one piece of sky above the river

      and pour themselves in. Like a thousand arrows 

              pointing in unison one way, then another. That bit of blue

      doesn’t belong to them, and they don’t belong to the sky,

or to the earth. Isn’t that what you’ve
poem

I must have just missed a parade—
horse droppings and hard candy
in the road, miniature American
flags staked into the grass, plastic
chairs lining the curb down this

two-lane highway, 36 in the open
country, briefly Main Street in town.
When I was small, I sat on a curb

poem

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,