Spotlight on: Above Ground by Clint Smith


Clint Smith, photo credit Carletta Girma

Most of these poems were written as the things were happening, because for me, poetry is the act of paying attention. It is both the creation of art and the mechanism through which I do my best thinking. For me, the poems are time capsules, little archives that allow me to capture a moment or a feeling. And excavating the granularity of those moments makes me more appreciative of those moments as a whole, so the next time a version of that happens, I’m able to more fully be there with it. The period of time during which your kids are both physically able and emotionally willing to have a dance party with you in the kitchen is pretty brief. I think writing poetry helps me hold onto those moments in the same way that a photograph does.” ―Clint Smith, Interview, Esquire

Above Ground by Clint Smith

What booksellers are saying about Above Ground

  • Above Ground is a poetry collection that is a heartfelt ode to fatherhood. These poems are imbued with the love, joy, wonder, and uncertainties that accompany being a parent. They also delve into family and ancestry, history and race, turmoil, and above all, hope. This is an important collection that I will highly recommend.
      ― Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • These poems swing wide between specific moments from early fatherhood to indictments of America’s reluctance to make good on its promises. Smith is candid, earnest, and plain in his odes to his wife, children, parents, in-laws, and grandparents. He is artful, searing, and bold. These seemingly simple poems speak volumes.
      ―Adah Fitzgerald, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina | Buy from Main Street Books

  • I don’t think of myself as someone who’s good at reading poetry, but Clint Smith makes me think I might be. His poetry is so easy to read but still forces me to slow down and think about each line. I loved that the poems in this book are mainly reflections and observations on fatherhood. It is a gift to see his love for his children on the page. A lovely book that I’m sure will be treasured by many for years and decades to come.
      ―Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina | Buy from Bookmarks

About Clint Smith

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, and selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2021. He is also the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review. and elsewhere. Clint received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and a Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.

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