Maggie Smith & Isaac Fitzgerald on You Could Make This Place Beautiful

Tue, Jun 4 2024
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Central Library, Dweck Center

author talks BPL Presents


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.


Participants

Maggie SmithMaggie Smith is the award-winning author of You Could Make This Place BeautifulGood BonesThe Well Speaks of Its Own PoisonLamp 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 TimesThe New YorkerThe Paris ReviewThe Best American Poetry, and more. You can follow her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet. Photo credit Devon Albeit

 

Isaac Fitzgerald, credit Remi Morawski

Moderator Isaac Fitzgerald is The New York Times bestselling author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts (winner of a New England Book Award). He appears frequently on The Today Show and is also the author of the bestselling children’s book How to Be a Pirate as well as the co-author of Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them and Knives & Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (winner of an IACP Award). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire, The Guardian, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn and is currently working on his next book, American Dionysus, forthcoming from Knopf. Photo credit Remi Morawski

BPL Presents programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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Add to My Calendar 06/04/2024 07:00 pm 06/04/2024 08:30 pm America/New_York Maggie Smith & Isaac Fitzgerald on You Could Make This Place Beautiful

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.


Participants

Maggie SmithMaggie Smith is the award-winning author of You Could Make This Place BeautifulGood BonesThe Well Speaks of Its Own PoisonLamp 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 TimesThe New YorkerThe Paris ReviewThe Best American Poetry, and more. You can follow her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet. Photo credit Devon Albeit

 

Isaac Fitzgerald, credit Remi Morawski

Moderator Isaac Fitzgerald is The New York Times bestselling author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts (winner of a New England Book Award). He appears frequently on The Today Show and is also the author of the bestselling children’s book How to Be a Pirate as well as the co-author of Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them and Knives & Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (winner of an IACP Award). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire, The Guardian, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn and is currently working on his next book, American Dionysus, forthcoming from Knopf. Photo credit Remi Morawski

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