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The Body's Question

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, The Body's Question debuts Tracy K. Smith's ambitious and engaging new voice

You are pure appetite. I am pure
Appetite. You are a phantom
In that far-off city where daylight
Climbs cathedral walls, stone by stolen stone.
--from "Self-Portrait as the Letter Y"

The Body's Question by Tracy K. Smith received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Pri
Paperback, 72 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Graywolf Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 226)
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James Tierney
So redolent of speech that it's too perfect for speaking. Is that one of poetry's definitions?
Not the flame, but what it promised,
Surrender. To be quenched of danger.
I torched toothpicks to watch them
Curl around themselves like living things,
Panicked and aglow. I would wake,
Sheets wrinked and damp, and rise
From that print of myself,
From that sleep-slack dummy self.
Make me light.

No one missed my shadow
Moving behind the house, so I led it
To the dry creek-bed and laid it down
Among thistledown, nettle,
Things that hate water as I hate
That weak, ash-dark self.
I stood above it,
A silent wicked
My favorite of Smith's books, she is mysterious and effortless and her images are exquisite. My jaw dropped at some of her line breaks, at each elegant turn of phrase that punched me in the gut. How does this all spin out of her so easily? Overall, the collection is a bit too long, but it hits more than it misses, and when it hits... Oof.
JJ Lynne
Tracy K. Smith is one of my favorite contemporary poets. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the AWP book fair in Boston last month, and she is a wonderfully genuine person. This collection is not my favorite of hers. Though there are stunning images in every piece, there are only a handful that strike me as a whole. Tracy's later work is more developed and her voice more cultivated, but one can see the seeds of her raw, vibrant language planted in "The Body's Question."
Meh . . . a couple good lines and images, but mostly Contemporary Poetry. Lots of poems that end with a single image (usually a capital-M Metaphor) trying to perfectly wrap things up by not appearing to be a definite ending. Sometimes they work, but mostly I just notice how she's trying. Maybe Duende is better.
Aug 02, 2013 SA rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
As an introduction to Tracy Smith, I did enjoy these poems, collected over several years of her work. Her themes seemed to be grief, desire, and loneliness, and those were felt throughout her verses. There were a couple of gut-punchers in here too. I look forward to reading her other two volumes.
Lisa Roney
Excellent use of imagination in these poems to bring together a picture of American society influenced by many sub-sets of people. I like the way these poems use but go beyond autobiography and turn the poet into an instrument.
Sara Habein
This is me shoving the book into your hands.

(Full review at Glorified Love Letters")
There are some beautiful lines in this collection that truly blew me away, but as a whole, I did not like it or think the overall pieces were memorable. I want to check out more of her work though.
There are a few poems in here that are absolutely beautiful. Smith's poems are much about language and hidden meaning. Nothing is obvious, and each line is whole.
Felt like reading someone's diary. Reminded me of living in northern California. Lots of passion and pain and history but no answers.
Lying beside you was like
Dangling a leg

Over the edge
Of a drifting boat.

One of my favorite books of poems!
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TRACY K. SMITH is the author of two previous collections: Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Essence Literary Award, and The Bodys Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is also the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award and a Whiting Writers Award, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Smith is currently a protg in ...more
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