The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison

by Maggie Smith

$16.95

“Maggie Smith’s collection is magical and troubling.… Time alternates between the forest where there are refrigerator magnets and safety belts, and The Forest where you, a now-human you, once preened ‘your blue-black wings.’… Time stops for violence and passion. Be intrigued. Find yourself welcome.” — Kimiko Hahn

Format: paperback

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Dorset Prize Winner, chosen by Kimiko Hahn

Delving into the depths of fairy tales to transform the daily into encounters with the marvelous but dangerous, Maggie Smith’s poems question whether the realms of imagination and story can possibly be safe. Even as her compressed stories are unfolding on a suburban cul de sac, they are deep in the mythical woods, “where children, despite their commonness, / are a delicacy.”

“Maggie Smith’s collection is magical and troubling.… Time alternates between the forest where there are refrigerator magnets and safety belts, and The Forest where you, a now-human you, once preened ‘your blue-black wings.’… Time stops for violence and passion. Be intrigued. Find yourself welcome.” — Kimiko Hahn

“Some kind of primary mythic world lies behind and throughout these adult tales of ultimate matters.… as much about the terrible and beautiful dreams of children as it is about waking up as a parent. This is a rare book of poems.” — Stanley Plumly

“Enchantment: that rarest of all poetic gifts. As when the neurons, in the kaleidoscopic movie they call a “functional MRI,” speak to us in colors on a screen from the deepest recesses of what we already know. Maggie Smith’s are poems of transformation: haunting, gorgeous, intimately unsettling. I cannot remember when I last read a book to match her powers of delight.” — Linda Gregerson

“Folk tales and their eerie, animistic wisdom are a wellspring for these powerful lyrics. The poems are ethereal and dark, brimming with dread, beauty, and rapture. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter’s arresting prose engagement with fairy tales, comes to mind. Smith updates motifs of the pacts children make with nature, the power of luck and curses, loss of innocence, the vulnerable and the sinister, primal fears of being eaten, and much more. The images are so fresh and inventive they shimmer. Original, cautionary, rich, delicious, The Well Speaks…is a spellbinding collection.” — Amy Gerstler

Tupelo Press is pleased to provide a  in free, Readers Companion downloadable PDF format. Click the link to download.

 

Lanterns

The stories say the banished dead are wild now,
crouching among scrawny trees, skinning rabbits
and raising them like lanterns. Who needs light
when you’re disfigured, kept from even the idea
of heaven, with slit throats or bulging eyes or
bits of skull clinging like pieces of seashell.
The stories say they have no hearts. That they wear
the broken bodies they left in. They can’t be
whole again, but at least they can stay in the woods,
under the creek bridge. At least they can lick dew
from leaves until their tongues rust. At least
if the creek runs, it will keep them from seeing
their reflections, their eyes too haunted to be the eyes
of deer. The stories say that you can hear them.
That they sing by the lanterns of skinned rabbits.
That the music is what coats the grass with frost.

Additional information

Weight .4 lbs
Dimensions 6 x .5 x 9 in

msmith225Maggie Smith holds a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MFA from The Ohio State University. Her previous books are Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005) and three prizewinning chapbooks, Disasterology (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming), The List of Dangers (Kent State/Wick Poetry Series, 2010), and Nesting Dolls (Pudding House, 2005). She lives with her husband and two children in Bexley, Ohio, where she works as a freelance writer and editor.

 

 

 

 

“These poems acknowledge that the well may be poisoned, but it is a deep well, and it has given itself the power of speech. It can warn us. In that warning, given freely to ‘Babes in the Wood,’—all of us children who will be lost to darkness and death, Smith unearths the deepest moral from these tales: that we can face the truth (‘The trees turned dark and took me with them’), speak it to one another, and through some mystical, magical, enchanted gift, still survive.” — Kenyon Review


“Maggie Smith’s Dorset Prize-winning collection, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, skillfully maneuvers between parent and predator, child and prey. She finds the fantastical within suburbia and threads the domestic into fairy tales. Imaginative and playful, Smith’s book nevertheless offers page after page of danger, wonder, and transformation.” —Heavy Feather Review

You can download the free lesson plan here.