“[Smith]...reminds you that you can...survive deep loss, sink into life’s deep beauty, and constantly, constantly make yourself new.” —Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Good Housekeeping, Goodreads, Zibby Mag, Newsweek, BookPage, and LitHub
The bestselling poet and author of the “powerful” (People) and “luminous” (Newsweek) Keep Moving offers a lush and heartrending memoir exploring coming of age in your middle age.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir
“Life, like a poem, is a series of choices.”
In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman’s personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is an argument for possibility. With a poet’s attention to language and an innovative approach to the genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new. Something beautiful.
Maggie Smith is the author of several books, including Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017) and the national bestsellers Goldenrod (One Signal/Simon&Schuster, July 2021) and Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (One Signal/Simon & Schuster, 2020).Her debut picture book for children, My Thoughts Have Wings, illustrated by Leanne Hatch, is forthcoming from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in 2024.
Smith's poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, The Paris Review, AGNI, Ploughshares, Image, the Washington Post, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, and many other journals and anthologies. In 2016 her poem "Good Bones" went viral internationally; since then it has been translated into nearly a dozen languages and featured on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary. Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
She can be found online at www.maggiesmithpoet.com and on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.