Life on Mars: Book summary and reviews of Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

Life on Mars

Poems

By Tracy K. Smith

Life on Mars
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  • Published in USA  May 2011,
    88 pages.

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Book Summary

You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself
To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What
Would your life say if it could talk? 

- from "No Fly Zone"

With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like “love” and “illness” now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.

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Book Awards

  • award image Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2012

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Poems set on space shuttles or in alternate realities manage to speak about an eerily familiar present; the title poem ... is proof that life is far stranger and more haunting than fiction." - Publishers Weekly

"…what's most satisfying about Life is that after the grand space opera of Part 1…Ms. Smith shows us that she can play the minor keys too. Her Martian metaphor firmly in place, she reveals unknowable terrains: birth and death and love." - The New York Times

"As all the best poetry does, Life on Mars first sends us out into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then returns us to ourselves, both changed and consoled." - The New York Times Book Review

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More Information

Tracy K. Smith is the author of two previous poetry collections: Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award, and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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