The Body’s Question: Poems

The Body's Question PoemsThe debut collection by the Poet Laureate of the United States

* Winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize *

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 Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, selected by Kevin Young. 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 these poems, until, as she writes, “I was anyone I wanted to be.”

Editorial Review:

“How delightful it is to fall under the lucid and quite more than lovely spell of Tracy K. Smith’s debut collection. Smith’s work is deceptively plain-spoken, but these are poems that are powerfully wrought, inspiring in all the clarity of their many gospel truths. The Body’s Question announces a remarkable new voice, brilliantly bundled, ingeniously belted down.” ―Lucie Brock-Broido

Amazon Reviews:

Every thing about it was interesting. I now look at poetry in a different way. I am enjoying it immensely! – Miz Vera

I purchased three of Tracy Smith’s books. She’s an amazing poet. I wish I wrote and imagined so beautifully and lucidly. Her talent shines. – Robert F. Flor

This is an alluring book of timeless personal expression. The poems are beautiful natural artistic self confessions of an adventurous and talented individual. I found this collection one both dark and alluring. My recommendation is that of a true find. I read these poems second having finished Life on Mars. Life on Mars was creative and clever, but, The Body’s Question infused and fed the soul and spirit. – David Matuszak

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