Ordinary Light: A Memoir

Ordinary Light: A Memoir

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Author: Tracy K. Smith

Publisher: Vintage (2015)

In Ordinary Light, former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is the story of a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

“Remarkable. . . . In a passage of agonizing beauty, Smith notes how far she travelled from the religion that had infused her childhood. The tension is [in] the division between Smith’s reflective self and the energy that goes into actively living one’s life. The Smith of Ordinary Light is our Emerson—the Emerson of ‘Self-Reliance.’ In her world, possibility is the key.”

–Hilton Als

“Engrossing in its spare, simple understatement. . . . Evocative . . . luminous.”

–The Washington Post