Lamp of the Body
Red Hen Press, 2005
Winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award
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PRAISE FOR Lamp of the Body
Here in Maggie Smith’s first book we encounter a voice that is spare, confident, and precise. Her images click into place, and the movement of each poem is deft, muscular, taut. These are poems we trust, poems that ask hard questions while at the same time convincing us of the magic in the world….I admire the courage and the control, the gorgeous turns, the leaps she takes in the poems while keeping the center of each poem intact….This is a book that delights, intrigues, and instructs.
A wonderful debut.
Vivid and surprising language? Check.
Sly yet taut rhythm? Check. Serious engagement with serious issues? Check. Maggie Smith’s poems have the traits we look for in a good poet. But for Smith those virtues are where she begins, not where she ends. Smith’s intelligence shines in every word, every rhythmic pulse, every engagement of this masterly first book. In “The Poem Speaks to Desperation,” Smith offers a compelling ars poetica: “I inhabit you, a nest of bees/in your mouth. You cannot/swallow without waking them…./
I have the last word./On the tip of a tongue,/suddenly, I am what swarms.” It’s a big claim. The poems live up to it. Check.
The List of Dangers
Kent State University Press, 2010
Winner of the Wick Poetry Series
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PRAISE FOR The List of Dangers
Tight and purposeful as a fable, The List of Dangers gives us sorrows and warnings from a world imbalanced by beasts and little beauties. The images are precise as a child’s playroom—keyholes, miniature candelabra, the “trebly notes” of wrens and gypsies—but perilous in their tender transformations. Maggie Smith’s rich lyric gifts produce here a poetry of balancing composure in the face of peril and pretty chance.
In Maggie Smith’s The List of Dangers, as in the Brothers Grimm, we learn early how hazardous life is and how eagerly our fate awaits us. In these inventive new poems, Smith borrows elements from folktales, fairy tales, and fables to remind us once again that “Nothing stays good for long” and “No one [is] preserved.” And just as before, we’re thrilled by each tale and tickled to death at our own imperilment.