The Body's Question Poems


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Graywolf Press


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1555973914

9781555973919

72 Pages

$16.00

CAD18.50

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the Best First Book by an African American Poet

The Body's Question presents us with a poetry that is, as Kevin Young noted when awarding this book the Cave Canem Prize, "well-crafted, surprising, intelligent, questioning, ambitious in its scope, and brilliant in realizing that ambition."

Confronting loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between child- and adulthood, Smith gathers courage and direction from the many disparate selves encountered and enabled in these poems, until, as she writes, "I was anyone I wanted to be." With language and sequences inflected with Mexican culture, with the shifting urban landscape, and with the spiritual concern for rendering small justices, these poems offer an exciting and necessary new voice.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Body's Question

"Smith speaks many different languages. Besides the Spanish that graces the 'Gospels' of her book's opening section, Smith also seems perfectly at home speaking of grief and loss, of lust and hunger, of joy and desire, which here often means the desire for desire, and a desire for language itself . . . She seems to speak in tongues, to speak about that thing even beyond, answering The Body's Question of her title."—Kevin Young, from his Introduction

"How delightful it is to fall under the lucid and quite more than lovely spell of Tracy K. Smith's debut collection. Smith's work is deceptively plain-spoken, but these are poems that are powerfully wrought, inspiring in all the clarity of their many gospel truths. The Body's Question announces a remarkable new voice, brilliantly bundled, ingeniously belted down."—Lucie Brock-Broido

"The Body's Question is an answer to pure passion, but the beauty is that the brain isn't divorced from the body. The strength of character in these marvelous poems delights and questions. Here's a voice that can weave beauty and terror into one breath, and the unguarded revelations are never verbal striptease."—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Talking Dirty to the Gods

"This is a rich collection of stories, histories, and moments that glow with the clean, direct language of a charming new voice. Attuned to the music of the streets—and to her heart—Smith is nevertheless attentive to craft, always aware of the integrity of the line. The result is poetry that is seductive yet powerful, subtle yet certain . . . Though she explores themes of family, race, and loss, her poems exude a sense of joy or prayer. Her language is what William Carlos Williams would recognize today as being 'in the American grain,' touched as it is with Spanish, Spanglish, and the varying rich talk of the streets . . . This is a rewarding book for any reader but will be especially of interest to African American and contemporary poetry collections."—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Tracy K. Smith received degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. She currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Tracy K. Smith received degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. She currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.
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