Above Ground (Hardcover)
A remarkable new poetry collection from Clint Smith, the #1 New York Times bestselling and National Book Critics Circle award-winning author of How the Word Is Passed.
Clint Smith’s vibrant and compelling new collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood, and explores how becoming a parent has recalibrated his sense of the world. There are poems that interrogate the ways our lives are shaped by both personal lineages and historical institutions. There are poems that revel in the wonder of discovering the world anew through the eyes of your children, as they discover it for the first time. There are poems that meditate on what it means to raise a family in a world filled with constant social and political tumult. Above Ground wrestles with how we hold wonder and despair in the same hands, how we carry intimate moments of joy and a collective sense of mourning in the same body. Smith’s lyrical, narrative poems bring the reader on a journey not only through the early years of his children’s lives, but through the changing world in which they are growing up—through the changing world of which we are all a part.
Above Ground is a breathtaking collection that follows Smith's first award-winning book of poetry, Counting Descent.
About the Author
Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, and selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2021. He is also the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review. and elsewhere. Clint received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and a Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.
“I’m so grateful that Clint Smith’s poems remind us of our interdependence on each other—on chrysanthemums, jellyfish, plankton, to note just a few of his magnificent poetic negotiations—all while turning his wide and generous eyes to fatherhood. This book is an illumination I sorely needed of both the outdoors and the quotidian—a joyful embrace and legacy of bright language and poignant questions.”—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders
“Clint Smith’s poems make palpable the soap-bubble thinness of borders—the contingent boundaries of love and loss, past and present, sanctuary and violence, ‘us’ and ‘them.’ With inextinguishable generosity and abundant wisdom, he shows us the linkages that both bind and divide us—as family, as community, as nation, as world: ‘The river that gives us water to drink is the same one that might wash us away.’ I am so grateful for these luminous poems.
—Monica Youn, author of Blackacre
“I think there is an emergent theory, and maybe also a demand, when Clint Smith considers the brutalizing facts and language of war almost alongside a reverie about sprinkling sand on his baby’s feet; when he mourns the long and brutal and ongoing history of American slavery almost alongside making French toast with the kids or dancing until the whole family falls down. When he makes us witness the most incomprehensibly awful (and daily) brutalities not only beside but almost in tandem with the most incomprehensibly tender (and daily) actions of care. It’s a theory, and a demand, to which I think we must pay very close attention.”—Ross Gay, author of Inciting Joy