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To Free the Captives

To Free the Captives

A Plea for the American Soul

Tracy K. Smith
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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: a stunning meditation on memory, family, and history that explores how we in America might--together--come to a new view of our shared past.

In 2020, heartsick from constant assaults on Black life, Tracy K. Smith found herself soul--searching, and digging into the historical archive for help navigating the "din of human division and strife." With lyricism and urgency, Smith draws on several avenues of thinking--personal, documentary, and spiritual--to understand who we are as a nation and what we might hope to mean to one another.

To Free the Captives begins this journey by assembling a new terminology of American life. Parsing the difference between the Free and the Freed, and the distance between Time Ago and Soon, Smith etches a portrait of where we find ourselves four hundred years into the American experiment and offers a compelling argument for the vocabulary of the soul as a tool for fulfilling our duties to each other and to the future.

Tracy K. Smith is a librettist, translator and the author of five acclaimed poetry collections, including Life on Mars, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 2017 to 2019, she served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States. She lives in Massachusetts.


  • Publisher: ‎Knopf (November 7, 2023)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Hardcover: ‎288 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎059353476X
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780593534762
  • Item Weight: ‎12.2 ounces
  • Dimensions: ‎5 x 0.81 x 7.5 inches


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