PositiveThe Hudson ReviewTracy K. Smith’s new and selected poems shows us how long it took for her to become herself or, that is, to allow herself to be the lyric persona of her poems. That individual steps forth in her award-winning third book, Life on Mars, and continues, until reaching a muted or less vivid depiction in her new poems. There is a steady exactitude in her best poems, so that when she feels the necessity to project her rhetoric at a high pitch, things can get blurry and hard to believe. The younger poet tries on personae that are not always convincing ... One wonders if there’s a certain way she thinks she ought to be. More daring? Volatile? Her next book, Duende, brings to mind Lorca’s dark creative spirit ... But then comes a breakthrough in terms of contemporary identity ... Forgiveness may be the best revenge, if the right poet can picture it. Smith’s accomplishment also helps us to appreciate the standout among her new poems, \'Soulwork\'[.]
PositiveThe Hudson ReviewIt is as if the poet of her first three books...found herself expected to show a more public profile, to take on more explicitly public concerns. She has always met these challenges with grace but not always with originality. Playlist for the Apocalypse is no different in this respect ... Dove cuts a wide swath from Keats to Neruda, and while the enemy is identified as the \'belligerent purveyors of programmed rectitude,\' there is a satisfying rebellion against what might be expected in a poem. I can hear the public poet throwing off her onerous duties ... It is the final section that, for me, includes the most moving poems; even without being told we would know that these were responses to impending mortality.