You Could Make This Place Beautiful

// A Memoir

"You Could Make This Place Beautiful" book cover

Published April 11, 2023

The bestselling poet and author of the “powerful” (People) and “luminous” (Newsweek) Keep Moving offers a lush and heartrending memoir exploring coming of age in your middle age.

“Life, like a poem, is a series of choices.”

In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman’s personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is an argument for possibility. With a poet’s attention to language and an innovative approach to the genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new. Something beautiful.

 Raves & Reviews

“Smith opens her heart like a book, dog-earing moments both painful and joyous…Smith’s conjuring of beauty through pain and her special blend of vulnerability and encouragement go down like a healing tonic.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“[Smith]…reminds you that you can…survive deep loss, sink into life’s deep beauty, and constantly, constantly make yourself new.”
— Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author


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