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Life on Mars: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith

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5061940,085 (4.06)99
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize * Poet Laureate of the United States * * A New York Times Notable Book of 2011 and New York Times Book ReviewEditors' Choice * * A New Yorker, Library Journaland Publishers WeeklyBest Book of the Year * New poetry by the award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, whose "lyric brilliance and political impulses never falter" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What Would your life say if it could talk? --from "No Fly Zone" With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel,Life on Marsimagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like "love" and "illness" now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.… (more)
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» See also 99 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Clever imagery at times but it didn’t really connect with anything on an emotional level so it just left me cold. ( )
  Aug3Zimm | May 7, 2022 |
I'm fairly new to the world of poetry, and this Pulitzer prize-winning book came highly recommended. Tracy K. Smith's poems are challenging in what they convey, at least they were at the beginning. My first self-taught lesson of poetry was to stop trying so hard to understand and just let go. By simply focusing on the words, perhaps trying to encapsulate them by how they sounded aloud, I started to arrive at some version of understanding. It was hard to know for sure because it was never blindingly obvious, and certainly never the same each time, but it felt right and realizing that also felt fight. I can foresee this being an ongoing introspective pursuit.

In one of my favorite movies, "Contact" starring Jodie Foster, there's a line near the end of the movie where her character, while staring at a never-before-seen celestial event, says, "I have no words to describe it. They should've sent a poet." I like to imagine Tracy K. Smith's "Life on Mars" is an answer to that call. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Aug 27, 2020 |
This book is really unbelievable.
  lindsaycostello | Jul 30, 2020 |
Smith's poetry is so approachable yet deep that it is easy to see why she was a poet laureate. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Jun 22, 2020 |

Once upon a time, a woman told this to her daughter:
Save yourself. The girl didn’t think to ask for what?
She looked into her mother’s face and answered Yes.
Years later, alone in the room where she lives
The daughter listens to the life she’s been saved from:
Evening patter. Summer laughter. Young bodies
Racing into the unmitigated happiness of danger.


Occasionally quotable, thoroughly engaging. ( )
  brokensandals | Feb 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize * Poet Laureate of the United States * * A New York Times Notable Book of 2011 and New York Times Book ReviewEditors' Choice * * A New Yorker, Library Journaland Publishers WeeklyBest Book of the Year * New poetry by the award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, whose "lyric brilliance and political impulses never falter" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What Would your life say if it could talk? --from "No Fly Zone" With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel,Life on Marsimagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like "love" and "illness" now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.

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