Ordinary Light

Ordinary Light

A Memoir

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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National Book Award Finalist

From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet hailed for her "extraordinary range and ambition" ( The New York Times Book Review ): a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

The youngest of five children, Tracy K. Smith was raised with limitless affection and a firm belief in God by a stay-at-home mother and an engineer father. But just as Tracy is about to leave home for college, her mother is diagnosed with cancer, a condition she accepts as part of God's plan. Ordinary Light is the story of a young woman struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

In lucid, clear prose, Smith interrogates her childhood in suburban California, her first collision with independence at Harvard, and her Alabama-born parents' recollections of their own youth in the Civil Rights era. These dizzying juxtapositions--of her family's past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future--will in due course compel Tracy to act on her passions for love and "ecstatic possibility," and her desire to become a writer.

Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child's and teenager's perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780307962669
0307962660
9780345804075
Branch Call Number: B SMITH TRACY
Characteristics: 349 pages ; 22 cm

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Introducing the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States

On June 14th, the Library of Congress named Tracy K. Smith the newest Poet Laureate of the United States. Smith, an alumni of both Harvard and Columbia University, teaches creative writing at Princeton University and is the author of four books of poetry: The Body's Question (winner of the Cave Canem prize for best first book by an African American poet), Duende (winner of the James Laughlin … (more)


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List - Mom and me
SLPL_Trends May 04, 2018

"A deeply moving memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter."


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DorisWaggoner
May 28, 2016

Though I'm not (yet) familiar with Smith's poetry, this memoir is quietly stunning. She lays herself bare, as if she's speaking to herself, I think in part because she couldn't say and ask her beloved mother everything she wanted to before her premature death from cancer. Smith's a wonderful writer, bringing clearly to life each member of her large family, as well as friends, especially women she meets at Harvard. From a very young age, she has thought a great deal about what it means to be a middle class, ambitious black woman. Though at times, she rebelled, in a quiet way, against the spiritual values of her Southern Baptist mother, she finds herself going back to those values in raising her own children.

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