Poetry Sunday: “An Old Story," by Tracy K. Smith

An Old Story We were made to understand it would be Terrible. Every small want, every niggling urge, Every hate swollen to a kind of epic wind. Livid, the land, and ravaged, like a rageful Dream. The worst in us having taken over And broken the rest utterly down. ………………………………………..A long age Passed. When at last we knew how little Would survive us—how little we had mended Or built that was not now lost—something Large and old awoke. And then our singing Brought on a different manner of weather. Then animals long believed gone crept down From trees. We took new stock of one another. We wept to be reminded of such color.   From Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press 2018)Copyright © 2018 by Tracy K. Smith. Used by permission of the author and Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. Wade in the Water is available for order here. Listen to Smith reading her poem here.   Tracy K. Smith was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. She earned a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Smith is the author of four poetry collections, including Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press 2018), shortlisted for the 2018 T.S. Eliot Prize. Her debut collection, The Body’s Question (Graywolf Press 2003), won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize in 2002. Her second book, Duende (Graywolf Press 2007), won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Life on Mars (Graywolf Press 2011) won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She also edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (Graywolf Press 2018). In June 2017, Smith was named US poet laureate, and her term was renewed in 2019. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University and hosts American Public Media’s daily radio program and podcast The Slowdown, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. [Sources are here and here]  

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