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Wade in the Water: Poems
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Graywolf Press 2018
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Description

Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize
Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection

The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States

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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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/03/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781555978631
ASIN:
B072R2H9FL
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APA Citation (style guide)

Tracy K. Smith. (2018). Wade in the Water: Poems. Graywolf Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tracy K. Smith. 2018. Wade in the Water: Poems. Graywolf Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tracy K. Smith, Wade in the Water: Poems. Graywolf Press, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tracy K. Smith. Wade in the Water: Poems. Graywolf Press, 2018.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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fullDescription

Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize
Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection

The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States

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.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2018

        "I feel ashamed, finally,/ Of our magnificent paved roads,/ Our bridges slung with steel.../ Everything enhanced, rehearsed," writes Pulitzer Prize winner Smith (Life on Mars), our current poet laureate, reminding us that the comfortable but artificial world we've constructed only distracts us from the real: "the cold, the pitiless, the bleak." Throughout her fourth collection, Smith centers attention on the troubled infrastructure of social, political, and environmental realities--contemporary and historical--that underlie and often undermine the "desolate luxury" of an unjust, profit-driven society that divides the haves from the have-nots. Though Smith is not afraid to point fingers ("Those awful, awful men. The ones/ Whose wealth is a kind of filth"), she accepts the personal and collective guilt borne by those who benefit, even modestly, from inequality. Most effectively, in a series of documentary poems incorporating letters by African American enlistees in the Civil War, she restores the lost voices of its victims. VERDICT Technically accomplished and precisely attuned to our current cultural climate, Smith, like William Butler Yeats, once again demonstrates how an engaged, activist poetry need not forgo lyricism, compassion, and complexity to be effective. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]--Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from March 19, 2018
        History is in a hurry,” writes Smith in her first collection since the Pulitzer-winning Life on Mars, and these lyrical meditations on class, environmental threat, and America’s bloody heritage prove that the current U.S. poet laureate is plenty capable of keeping up with that “ship forever setting sail.” Readers familiar with Smith’s work will feel at home in “this dark where the earth floats.” Some poems inhabit a more boldly theological space than does previous work, yet Smith’s sense of the numinous stays appealingly grounded, as when she describes the “everlasting self” as “Gathered, shed, spread, then/ Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love/ From a lifetime ago, and mud/ A dog has tracked across the floor.” Whether presenting a sardonic erasure of the Declaration of Independence or dramatizing the correspondence between black Civil War soldiers and their wives, Smith nimbly balances lyricism and direct speech. In “Annunciation,” she boldly states, “I’ve turned old. I ache most/ To be confronted by the real,/ the pitiless, the bleak.” But a wry playfulness leavens her weightier concerns, and she leaves a small window open on her private self: “Flying home, I snuck a wedge of brie, and wept/ Through a movie starring Angelina Jolie.” Smith remains a master whose technical skill enhances her emotional facilities, one ever able to leave readers “feeling pierced suddenly/ By pillars of heavy light.”

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from March 15, 2018
        Poetry requires acts of exquisite selection and distillation that Smith, poet laureate of the United States, performs with virtuosity and passion throughout her profoundly affecting fourth collection. Smith begins with ravishing lyrics of earthy spirituality. Two angels appear in a motel room: Grizzled, / in leather biker gear. In Hill Country, the rolling cadence traces the journey of God himself across rising and falling terrain in a jeep with the windows down. The title poem subtly captures the struggle between belief in a higher love and the cruel reality of the old South. Smith then illuminates personal perspectives on the Civil War in artistic feats of erasure and extraction, including a long poem composed of judiciously selected excerpts from letters to President Lincoln by black soldiers and their mothers and wives, heartrending testimony to the dire deprivation of those who risked their lives for the Union, yet were denied the most fundamental compensation. Smith is equally arresting in poems about contemporary injustices, including Watershed, a stunning response to the consequences of a corporation's unconscionable dumping of carcinogenic chemical waste. The sacred and the malevolent are astutely juxtaposed in this beautifully formed, deeply delving, and caring volume.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize
Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection

The extraordinary new poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States

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....

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