Life on Mars

Life on Mars


Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
Presents the third collection of new poems by the Pulitzer-prize-winning poet.

McMillan Palgrave

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 Review Editors' Choice *
* A New Yorker, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly Best 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 Mars imagines 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.

Publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. : Graywolf Press, 2011
ISBN: 9781555975845
Branch Call Number: 811.6 SMI
Characteristics: 75 p. ; 23 cm


From the critics

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May 07, 2018

The book left me confused about some of her references. I guess, being much older, I'm out of date.

Sep 22, 2016

It's been a while since I tried a new poet, and Tracy K. Smith was so rewarding. She is a very skilled word slinger, creating images, patterns and rhythms with words unlike anything I've ever read before. Even the dreariest images, the frantic, the unsettling -- they were all somehow musical because of her use of internal rhyme and general wordplay. This is a must-own.

Aug 24, 2016

This brief volume of poetry runs the gamut, from David Bowie's songs to Arthur C. Clarke's Space 2001 to Abu Ghraib and her father's death. Mostly free verse, reading like conversation. One of my favorites is about a therapist who helped her a lot, until her reaction to him began to feel like "a date with a friend," and she knew she'd gotten everything she could from him. Her father's work as an engineer on the Hubble Telescope is clearly an influence as well. I've read her later memoir about her mother, and recommend that as well. In fact, that memoir led me to her poetry.


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