Book Review — Above Ground by Clint Smith

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Little Brown and Company. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

  • Genre: Poetry
  • Published by: Little Brown and Company
  • Publish date: March 28, 2023
  • Number of pages: 128 pages
  • Author’s website:
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

Clint Smith’s vibrant and compelling new collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood, and explores how becoming a parent has recalibrated his sense of the world. There are poems that interrogate the ways our lives are shaped by both personal lineages and historical institutions. There are poems that revel in the wonder of discovering the world anew through the eyes of your children, as they discover it for the first time. There are poems that meditate on what it means to raise a family in a world filled with constant social and political tumult. Above Ground wrestles with how we hold wonder and despair in the same hands, how we carry intimate moments of joy and a collective sense of mourning in the same body. Smith’s lyrical, narrative poems bring the reader on a journey not only through the early years of his children’s lives, but through the changing world in which they are growing up–through the changing world of which we are all a part. Above Ground is a breathtaking collection that follows Smith’s first award-winning book of poetry, Counting Descent.

Rating: 4/5

I’ll admit the overall topic of these poems -parenthood and raising kids in today’s world- wasn’t really for me, but as I read them I realized that although Smith discusses many anecdotes of his experience as a parent, he also critically evaluates issues in America through the lens of how will our actions today impact future generations? Not gonna lie, this just made me even more set in my desire to not have kids but I also think this could be very comforting for those who do have kids!

Using stunning imagery, references to historical events, and a confessional style of poetry, Smith delivers a heartfelt critique of America’s issues and leaves the reader hopeful.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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