Celebrated for its extraordinary intelligence and exhilarating range, the poetry of Tracy K. Smith opens up vast questions. Such Color: New and Selected Poems, her first career-spanning volume, traces an increasingly audacious commitment to exploring the unknowable, the immense mysteries of existence. Each of Smith’s four collections moves farther outward: when one seems to reach the limits of desire and the body, the next investigates the very sweep of history; when one encounters death and the outer reaches of space, the next bears witness to violence against language and people from across time and delves into the rescuing possibilities of the everlasting. Smith’s signature voice, whether in elegy or praise or outrage, insists upon vibrancy and hope, even—and especially—in moments of inconceivable travesty and grief.
Such Color collects the best poems from Smith’s award-winning books and culminates in thirty pages of brilliant, excoriating new poems. These new works confront America’s historical and contemporary racism and injustices, while they also rise toward the registers of the ecstatic, the rapturous, and the sacred—urging us toward love as a resistance to everything that impedes it. This magnificent retrospective affirms Smith’s place as one of the twenty-first century’s most treasured poets.
“[Tracy K. Smith is] a poet of formal breadth and consistent excellence . . . This collection is a commanding reminder that the former poet laureate is one of the most important poets writing today.”—Emilia Phillips, The New York Times Book Review
“Haunting and vital, [Such Color is] the perfect encapsulation of a remarkable body of work.”—TIME
“In Such Color, Smith has forged a remarkably cohesive collection by joining the accumulated force of her first four books with the momentum of her newest work. These poems confidently range across time, space, and national boundaries and speak to the current moment with a needed charge.”—Sylee Gore, The Harvard Review
“Moving from dark to light, grief into joy, these contrasts form the graceful swiveling energy of Smith’s verse, which is on full display in Such Color . . . You don’t read a Smith poem; you fall into it, surrendering, like an embrace, as in the best poems of Lucille Clifton.”—John Freeman, Alta Journal
“[Such Color] solidifies Smith as one of the most talented writers in American poetry, a writer who is sure to continue crafting remarkable verse for years to come.”—Ronnie K. Stephens, The Poetry Question
“The collected poems reflect the bright arc of Smith's career . . . [Her] admirers will enjoy revisiting favorite poems and reading new works, while this volume will stand as a welcoming and dazzling introduction to Smith's poetry for first-timers.”—Booklist, starred review
“Both timeless and urgent, [Such Color] serves as a humbling and invigorating reawakening from sorrow and apathy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)