Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Body's Question” as Want to Read:
The Body's Question
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Body's Question

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
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"

Confronting loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood, Smith gathers courage and direction from the many disparate selves encountered in
Paperback, 72 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Graywolf Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Body's Question, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Body's Question

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 20, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
James Tierney
Jan 09, 2014 James Tierney rated it really liked it
So redolent of speech that it's too perfect for speaking. Is that one of poetry's definitions?
Oct 04, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
Studded with brilliant imagery.
Jan 26, 2011 Mely rated it really liked it
Shelves: writer-poc, poetry
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
Nikolas Kalar
Though Smith has been in the public eye (or, the literary public eye or the poetical public eye) since she won the Cave Canem Prize for this collection all the way back in 2002, I've only recently become a fan of hers, maybe about a year ago, when I picked up and fell in love with her most recent poetry collection Life on Mars, and continued to love her volume of memoir Ordinary Light. Now as I go backwards and explore her earlier works, I can see how she has grown as an artist.

The Body's Questi
JJ Lynne
Mar 22, 2013 JJ Lynne rated it liked it
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."
Jan 02, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
There were some poems I liked, in particular "Appetite," but overall I didn't find the collection incredibly moving or incising, which is what I really want from poetry--revelation. I haven't read Life On Mars, the collection for which she received the Pulitzer, so I'd be interested to see if I like that any better.
Spencer Hughes
Mar 09, 2016 Spencer Hughes rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, no-peace
These words are salve and intoxicant. Not every poem is amazing, but there are lines and images and phrases and bits of each that are worth reading and re-reading and re-re-reading. Where some of the work falls a bit short, the rest picks up the slack. I found myself going back to review the same group of poems several times, savoring them.
Sep 03, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
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.
Kenyatta Garcia
Jan 22, 2015 Kenyatta Garcia rated it liked it
This collection contains some great lines and a scattering of good poems. But, I think Smith gets better with age. I prefer her newer books. That is not to say this isn't worth reading. In fact, this book should be read by lovers of her work and then work through her new stuff to see her maturing and changing. It's a remarkable poetic trajectory.
Feb 07, 2015 William rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is Smith's first book. The language is highly distilled -- sharp images and turns of line show up, but often the short line limits expression. Her work later has expanded into a much more fluid, more emotionally communicating style.
Jul 31, 2013 SA rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, poetry
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
May 19, 2012 Lisa Roney rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
James Yates
I'm terrible at analyzing poetry, but these poems were fascinating- yes, there are ruminations on the body, but I was more taken by Smith's looks at time and place. She writes to capture moments and memory that seem to be past and present all at once.
May 11, 2008 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of poems!
Lying beside you was like
Dangling a leg

Over the edge
Of a drifting boat.

Sara Habein
Nov 28, 2012 Sara Habein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This is me shoving the book into your hands.

(Full review at Glorified Love Letters")
Karlo Mikhail
Feb 25, 2015 Karlo Mikhail rated it liked it
Quite good. Very touching.
Mar 27, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 28, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Fatima E.
Mar 25, 2015 Fatima E. rated it it was amazing
gorgeous. gorgeous.
J. Dorn
Mar 07, 2012 J. Dorn rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2012
Felt like reading someone's diary. Reminded me of living in northern California. Lots of passion and pain and history but no answers.
Mar 12, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I kind of hate rating books of poetry and even saying I've "finished" them. The best poetry is never finished and I will be coming back to this book for a very long time.
Tonymess rated it really liked it
Sep 26, 2016
Emily rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2015
Chelsea rated it liked it
Sep 07, 2015
Lindsay rated it liked it
Mar 10, 2013
bananya rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2013
Despy rated it it was ok
Dec 24, 2016
Anatha Latshaw
Anatha Latshaw rated it it was ok
Feb 05, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • leadbelly
  • Wind in a Box
  • Book of My Nights
  • Quantum Lyrics
  • Dear Darkness: Poems
  • Miracle Fruit
  • Plot
  • Teahouse of the Almighty
  • A Village Life
  • The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction
  • Domestic Work: Poems
  • Without End: New and Selected Poems
  • A Little White Shadow
  • American Sublime: Poems
  • Teeth
  • Hotel Insomnia
  • Dancing in Odessa
  • Please
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
More about Tracy K. Smith...

Share This Book

“We want so much,
When perhaps we live best
In the spaces between loves,

That unconscious roving,
The heart its own rough animal.
More quotes…