Advice from poet and ‘divorce whisperer’ Maggie Smith on reclaiming yourself

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Jessica DuLong

Published May 27, 2023

Poet Maggie Smith was watching the clouds through an airplane window on a flight between book tour events when it occurred to her what her new memoir is truly about: “not letting myself stay small anymore.”

The bestseller “You Could Make This Place Beautiful” chronicles her divorce but also tackles common family terrain, including miscarriage, the division of domestic labor, the isolation of child rearing, and losing and finding oneself.

For a long time, Smith “made decisions, mostly for others, based on fear.” Lately, she’s decided to let her “braver self” do the talking. The universe, she’s found, seems to be rewarding her courage, showing her she’s on the right path, just as it did in 2016 when her viral poem “Good Bones,” about holding onto hope in the midst of dark moments, was dubbed “the official poem of 2016” by what was then Public Radio International.

Since then, a huge response to her poetry and prose, including two recent bestsellers, “Keep Moving” and “Goldenrod,” has elevated her to celebrity poet status.

Readers reach out in signing lines and through multiplatform messages to tell her how much her frank and contemplative wisdom through experience has helped them.