Cover image for The body's question
The body's question
Smith, Tracy K.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Saint Paul, Minn. : Graywolf, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 85 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3569.M5386 B63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3569.M5386 B63 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The 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."

Author Notes

Tracy K. Smith received degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. She currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first collection by an African American poet, this is a rich collection of stories, histories, and moments that glow with the clean, direct language of a charming new voice. Attuned to the music of the streets-and to her heart-Smith is nevertheless attentive to craft, always aware of the integrity of the line. The result is poetry that is seductive yet powerful, subtle yet certain: "There's a story told here/ By those of us who daydream/ To the music of crystal and steel." Though she explores themes of family, race, and loss, her poems exude a sense of joy or prayer. Her language is what William Carlos Williams would recognize today as being "in the American grain," touched as it is with Spanish, Spanglish, and the varying rich talk of the streets-"Not the flame, but what it promised." This is a rewarding book for any reader but will be especially of interest to African American and contemporary poetry collections.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.