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Fridays in April . . . Discovering Poetry

As you already know, during April (National Poetry Month), it's been my intention. . . to share some of my favorite poems and poets with you.  Poems and poets that you may not be familiar with yet.  Poems that are accessible and insightful.  Poems I think you'll like.

Like this one . . . 


Good Bones
by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children.  The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake.  Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind 
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children.  I am trying 
to sell them the world.  Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones:  This place could be beautiful,
right?  You could make this place beautiful.
I first discovered this poem back in 2016.  I don't remember if it was after yet another mass shooting or after the presidential election, but in a time of sadness for me, this poem came along.  You may have discovered it then, too.  The Washington Post wrote an article about it - and its author, Maggie Smith, in 2016, calling it "the poem that captured the mood of a tumultuous year."  (You can read the article here.)  And Public Radio International called it the "official poem of 2016."  (You can read that article here.)  Anyway, this poem led me to discover the beautiful poetry of Maggie Smith.  Her book Good Bones was published in 2017, and it is a gorgeous tribute to motherhood.  You can learn more about Maggie Smith and sample some of her poetry here.
The poem Good Bones first appeared in the online literary journal Waxwing in June 2016.  It is also included in the author's book Good Bones, published by Tupelo Press in 2017.  Copyright Maggie Smith.


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I read the poem some time ago, maybe where written about in the press, but it is a very good, very real poem. This shows how poetry reflects society without being pretentious or inaccessible. Thank you for your April tutorial on poetry, Kym.


I hadn't read this poem before or even heard of it, but it certainly does seem to capture a lot about the current world. As a parent of a young child, it resonates a lot with me. As adults, we see all the bad in the world and yet try to hope for the good to overcome it while at the same time stressing the good to our children. I think the final line really says it all: "You could make this place beautiful." Thank you for sharing.


Your Friday intentions during April have been spot on. I've looked forward to Fridays for the poems you've shared, every one enjoyable and accessible. I missed this one in 2016, but I love it. So much so that Good Bones is on its way to me because I already know I'll love the whole book and need to read it. Thank you for Fridays in April, and feel free to share poems any time!


I too saw this in the Washington Post - I held on to her optimism in her "50% good" thoughts - even though I, like her, believe that is a far less number. I revisited it after it came out that we are separating families and caging children. I needed her optimism so much then.

Thank you so much for sharing her today. Somethings are best said in poetry.

kim in oregon

Thanks for sharing this today. I kept reading this is the Dowager Countess' voice though.


Thank-you for opening my mind this month. I'm not sure where I'll go with it but possibly when there is more time in my day I'll really begin to appreciate all that you've shown me! xo


Oh boy. That is a whole bunch of truth. Thank you!


That's a new one to me and it's so true and so insightful. Thank you.


Another new-to-me poet. I've so enjoyed these Fridays, Kym - thank you!


I wanted to thank you for posting the poems. I learned here that there is a Poem in Your Pocket Day which was on my birthday. So I carried a poem in my pocket that day and distributed the small notes to co-workers at my afternoon cake gathering in the office. We each then wrote a Haiku poem. It was fun and a very different activity from any other birthday gathering we have had here.

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