Today's poem is "El Mar"
from Duende

Graywolf Press

Tracy K. Smith received the Cave Canem Prize for her first book, The Body's Question (Graywolf Press 2003), and the James Laughlin Award for Duende (Graywolf Press 2007). She has also received a Rona Jaffe and a Whiting Writers' Award. She is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University.

Other poems by Tracy K. Smith in Verse Daily:
May 24, 2007:   "Western Fragment" " We were tired of dry spells, the whole town..."
April 10, 2007:   "Nocturne: Andalusian Dog" " I rise. I pant. I scrape..."

Books by Tracy K. Smith: The Body's Question: Poems, Duende: Poems

Other poems on the web by Tracy K. Smith:
Five Poems
"Self Portrait as the Letter Y"

Tracy K. Smith's Home Page.

About Duende:

"Tracy K. Smith synthesizes the riches of many discursive and poetic traditions without regard to doctrine and with great technical rigor. Her poems are mysterious but utterly lucid and write a history that is sub-rosa yet fully within her vision. They are deeply satisfying and necessarily inconclusive. And they are pristinely beautiful without ever being precious. Writers and musicians have explored the concept of duende, which might in English translate to a kind of existential blues. Smith is not interested in sadness, per se. Rather, in the strange music of these poems I think Smith is trying to walk us close to the edge of death-in-life, the force of hovering death in both the personal and social realms, admitting its inevitability and sometimes-proximity, and understand its manifestations in quotidian acts. This dark force is nonetheless a life force, which, in the poem “Flores Woman,” concludes “Like a dark star. I want to last.” If Duende were wine it would certainly be red; if edible, it would be meat cooked rare, coffee taken black, stinky cheese, bittersweet chocolate. Tracy K. Smith’s music is wholly her own, and Duende is a dolorous, beautiful book."
—Elizabeth Alexander

"These poems make a ritual for forgiveness, insight and regeneration. This collection by Tracy K. Smith is a true merging of the ancient roots of poetry with the language of an age of a different kind of sense. Stunning."
—Joy Harjo

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