Gorgeous traffic

Tracy K. Smith’s marine vitality
by
January–February 2022, no. 439
Buy this book

Such Color: New and selected poems by Tracy K. Smith

Graywolf Press, $46.90 hb, 221 pp

Gorgeous traffic

Tracy K. Smith’s marine vitality
by
January–February 2022, no. 439
American poet Tracy K. Smith (photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
American poet Tracy K. Smith (photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

‘The wave always returns’, writes Marina Tsvetaeva. And it ‘always returns as a different wave’. Such Color reveals such a relentless renewal of lyricism as a signature of Tracy K. Smith’s poetry. A selected edition promises to highlight images and ideas across the American poet’s work. For Smith, one constant is the movement of water. In ‘Minister of Saudade’, from her second collection, Duende (2007), the speaker asks: ‘What kind of game is the sea?’ After a pause at the stanza break, an incantatory reply comes: ‘Lap and drag. Crag and gleam. / The continual work of wave / And tide.’ Ceaseless making, flux, and patterning are also a poem’s work. Smith’s image of creative marine energy recalls Sylvia Plath’s image of words’ ‘indefatigable hooftaps’, echoing as they carry meaning outwards. In Plath’s case, as in Smith’s, one direction is seawards.

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Such Color: New and selected poems' by Tracy K. Smith

Such Color: New and selected poems

by Tracy K. Smith

Graywolf Press, $46.90 hb, 221 pp

Buy this book

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