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 ritual and collectiveness that explores how older forms of inquiry-from song to prayer to ways of public gathering-might help us all survive violent times and address America's shared history. 

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.

In Smith’s own words, “To write a book about Black strength, Black continuance, and the powerful forms of belief and community that have long bolstered the soul of my people, I used the generations of my own patrilineal family to lean backward toward history, to gather a fuller sense of the lives my own ancestors led, the challenges they endured, and the sources of hope and bolstering they counted on. What this process has led me to believe is that all of us, in the here and now, can choose to work alongside the generations that precede us in tending to America’s oldest wounds and meeting the urgencies of our present.”


1.1" H x 7.4" L x 5.3" W, 288 pages. Hardcover. 


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