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Goldenrod is the new book of poetry by award winning author Maggie Smith. It is a relatively short volume, divided into three untitled sections. The poems range in size from about one half of a page to two pages.

Ok so here are some quick thoughts and impressions noted right after I finished the last poem:

Conversational poems, family poems, philosophical poems, everyday poems, poems about art, about nature, about family life.

Most are articulate, informed, and informal almost off-handed, intellectual at turns, personal at others. Marriage, children, divorce, time, space, life in general.

Entertaining, informing, reflections, sometimes questions, a touch of politics, though thankfully not much.

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Maggie Smith is from the generation following the generation of the two icons of poetry written by women, Mary Oliver and Louise Gluck (Nobel Prize Literature 2020, born in New York City). Mary Oliver (belovingly known as Mary O) passed away recently and Louise Gluck has just released a new book of poems which I hope to review! I think of Maggie Smith as someone from the in-between generation because as you may have noticed there is a whole younger generation of female poets in their twenties and thirties with new voices and perspectives.

This makes Maggie Smith particularly interesting regarding the future of the United States and our culture. Think of Mary O and Louise Gluck as Donald Trump and Joe Biden (no insults intended!). And think of Maggie Smith as the next generation of political leadership.

The torch is going to be passed in the next few years and it is not going to the younger poets/generations. It will be going to Maggie Smith’s generation. And personally I have always felt that artists and poets have more truth to tell then all the politicians and business tycoons put together.

So, there are a few good reasons to pick up this volume and give it a shot. First off, the poems are great reads, contemporary, colloquial, well written. Second, you don’t have to spend weeks reading, you can probably finish in a few nights and then go back and dig deeper into the poems that really intrigue you. And lastly, perhaps most significantly, you will get a true poet’s view of the new generation, standing on the cusp of leadership.

Happy Reading!

Below I have included the poem “Goldenrods”, the keynote poem of this volume in many ways.

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Goldenrods

I’m no botanist. If you’re the color of sulfur
and growing at the roadside, you’re goldenrod.

You don’t care what I call you, whatever
you were born as. You don’t know your own name.

But driving near Peoria, the sky pink-orange,
the sun bobbing at the horizon, I see everything

is what it is, exactly, in spite of the words I use:
black cows, barns falling in on themselves, you.

Dear flowers born with a highway view,
forgive me if I’ve mistaken you. Goldenrod,

whatever your name is, you are with you own kind.
Look–the meadow is a mirror, full of you,

your reflection repeating. Whatever you are.
I see you, wild yellow, and I would let you name me.