You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir (Paperback)
April 2023 Indie Next List
“Maggie Smith’s first memoir digs deeper into her life after divorce. The writer zooms in close and then offers wider shots, back and forth, to slowly reveal her heart, and in the process, she discovers her power to create something new.”
— Linda Kass, Gramercy Books, Bexley, OH
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NPR Best Book of the Year • Time Best Book of the Year • Oprah Daily Best Memoir of the Year
“A bittersweet study in both grief and joy.” —Time
“A sparklingly beautiful memoir-in-vignettes” (Isaac Fitzgerald, New York Times bestselling author) that explores coming of age in your middle age—from the bestselling poet and author of Keep Moving.
“Life, like a poem, is a series of choices.”
In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself. The book begins with one woman’s personal heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is “extraordinary” (Ann Patchett) in the way that it reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new and beautiful.
About the Author
Maggie Smith is the award-winning author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp of the Body, and the national bestsellers Goldenrod and Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. A 2011 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has also received several Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been widely published, appearing in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Best American Poetry, and more. You can follow her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.