Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 - 7:00pm

We are absolutely delighted to partner with our friends at Main Street Books Davidson to bring award-winning poet Maggie Smith to you for a virtual conversation with James Beard Award-winning author Elissa Altman. 


In her long-awaited debut memoir, YOU COULD MAKE THIS PLACE BEAUTIFUL award-winning poet Maggie Smith explores in lyrical vignettes the end of her marriage and the beginning of a surprising new life. A story that starts with Smith’s personal, particular heartbreak quickly grows into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, family, work, and patriarchy. With the spirit of reflection and empathy she’s known for, and a razor-sharp wit, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself.


YOU COULD MAKE THIS PLACE BEAUTIFUL, like the work of Cheryl Strayed, Tara Westover, and Elizabeth Gilbert, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It’s 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 an argument for possibility. With a poet’s attention to language and an innovative approach to the genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new. Something beautiful.

Advance Praise for You Could Make This Place Beautiful

“Reading Maggie Smith's memoir, I laughed and gasped and ugly-cried and somehow began to process ten years of my own pent-up, frozen grief. This book is nothing less than a cathartic miracle.”

—Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love

“In this lightning bolt of a debut memoir, Maggie Smith gives us the truth of healing in form as much as story.”

—Megan Stielstra, author of The Wrong Way to Save Your Life


“Maggie Smith’s powerful mastery of language, and amazing ability to portray life in all its rich messiness, is on full display in this bold, brutally candid, and yes, beautiful, book.”
—Isaac Fitzgerald, NYT bestselling author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts

“Among Maggie Smith’s singular gifts as a writer are the way she swiftly brings her poetry to her prose, her willingness to show up to the page with aspirational levels of vulnerability, grace, and joy, and a clarity of heart amid the heartbreak that together makes this a moving and gorgeous must read.”

—Elizabeth Crane, author of This Story Will Change


Maggie Smith is the award-winning author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp 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 Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, and more. You can follow her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.


Elissa Altman is the James Beard Award-winning author of the memoirs Motherland, Treyf, Poor Man’s Feast, and her upcoming memoir about living a creative life, On Permission. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Connecticut Book Award, and Maine Literary Award for memoir, Altman’s work has appeared in Orion, On Being, O: The Oprah Magazine, LitHub, the Wall Street Journal, Dame, Lion’s Roar, The Guardian, and the Washington Post, where her column, Feeding My Mother, ran for a year. Altman writes and speaks widely on the intersection of sustenance, the metabolizing of grief, and the creative spirit, and has appeared live on the TEDx stage and at the Public Theater in New York. She teaches the craft of memoir at the Fine Arts Work Center, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, College of William and Mary, and internationally. She lives in Connecticut with her family.


You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir By Maggie Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982185855
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/One Signal Publishers - April 11th, 2023

Event address: 
Darien, CT 06820-4127