Wade in the Water: Poems (Hardcover)

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A hard-hitting collection from the US Poet Laureate. At once vulnerable and empowered, it forces us to reckon with our country's fraught history and reconcile it with the injustice and inequality of today. The poems she created by splicing letters written by former slaves and by erasing parts of the Declaration of Independence are especially moving -- and especially haunting.

— Ethan

United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith beautifully reflects on America, both past and present. I found her words to be a poignant and political commentary on the complexities and challenges and important issues of today.  -Roxanne

— From Roxanne's 2018 Summer Reads


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.

About the Author

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three previous poetry collections, including Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She teaches at Princeton University.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781555978136
ISBN-10: 1555978134
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Pages: 88
Language: English