The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison

Tupelo Press, April 2015
Winner of the 2012 Dorset Prize,
selected by Kimiko Hahn

Gold Medal Winner, Poetry
2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards

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“Enchantment: that rarest of all poetic gifts. As when the neurons, in the kaleidoscopic movie they call a ‘functional MRI,’ speak to us in colors on a screen from the deepest recesses of what we already know. Maggie Smith’s are poems of transformation: haunting, gorgeous, intimately unsettling. I cannot remember when I last read a book to match her powers of delight.”
—Linda Gregerson


“Some kind of primary mythic world lies behind and throughout these adult tales of ultimate matters. Maggie Smith’s skill at bringing archetypes into her own individual stories is both seamless and transforming. The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison is as much about the terrible and beautiful dreams of children as it is about waking up as a parent. This is a rare book of poems.”
—Stanley Plumly


“Folk tales and their eerie, animistic wisdom are a wellspring for these powerful lyrics. The poems are ethereal and dark, brimming with dread, beauty, and rapture. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter’s arresting prose engagement with fairy tales, comes to mind. Smith updates motifs of the pacts children make with nature, the power of luck and curses, loss of innocence, the vulnerable and the sinister, primal fears of being eaten, and much more. The images are so fresh and inventive they shimmer. Original, cautionary, rich, delicious, The Well Speaks…is a spellbinding collection.”
—Amy Gerstler


“Maggie Smith’s collection is magical and troubling….Time alternates between the forest where there are refrigerator magnets and safety belts, and The Forest where you, a now-human you, once preened ‘your blue-black wings.’…Time stops for violence and passion. Be intrigued. Find yourself welcome.”
—Kimiko Hahn