Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Synopses & Reviews
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?
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.
"Life on Mars first sends us out into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then returns us to ourselves, both changed and consoled." The New York Times Book Review
"[Life on Mars] is by turns intimate, even confessional, regarding private life in light of its potential extermination, and resoundingly political, warning of a future that 'isn't what it used to be." The New Yorker
"The book's strange and beautiful first section pulses with America's adolescent crush on the impossible, on what waits beyond the edge of the universe....Ms. Smith...reveals unknowable terrains: birth and death and love." The New York Times
"Hypnotic and brimming with irony, the poems in Smith's latest volume aren't so much about outer space as the interior life and the search for the divine." Library Journal
"[Tracy K. Smith is] one of the finest poets writing right now." The Miami Herald
"...a gripping, intergalactic ride that marvels at the miracles and malfunctions of our ever changing world. 'Like a wide wake, rippling/Infinitely into the distance, everything/That ever was still is, somewhere.'" More Magazine
"[The poems] are smart, funny, and expertly crafted." San Francisco Chronicle, Best Poetry of 2011
"A strong, surprising, and often beautiful book....Consistently surprising and demanding, Life on Mars gives materiality to Victor Martinez's statement that 'poetry is the essence of thinking.'" The Rumpus
About the Author
Tracy K. Smith is the author of two previous poetry collections: Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award, and The Bodys Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.