Maggie Smith


Poet, mother, and viral sensation Maggie Smith was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1977. Growing up in the midwest, Smith began writing poetry as a teenager. Though she submitted numerous poems to her high school literary magazine, her work was never accepted for publication. Despite this discouragement, Smith would become one of the most recognized poets of her generation; her poem “Good Bones” was published by Waxwing in 2016 and went viral internationally, garnering an estimated one million views. “Good Bones,” which Smith wrote in one go at a Starbucks, has been translated into nearly a dozen languages and recited by actress Meryl Streep at Lincoln Center. Smith earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MFA from The Ohio State University, and has gone on to teach creative writing at several institutions, including Gettysburg College and Antioch University Los Angeles. She holds the same enthusiasm for teaching as she does for writing, now serving as faculty for Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Much of Smith’s inspiration comes from science and nature, as well as her children’s endless curiosities and her personal experiences as a mother. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient, Maggie Smith has received six Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council and is the Editor at Large for the prestigious literary journal The Kenyon Review. Smith lives with her family in Bexley, Ohio.

Now They’re Saying Isolation Atrophies the Brain

Talking to yourself in an empty room

sometimes feels like prayer but isn’t.


It isn’t prayer if you’re not asking

for anything, and what would you ask for?


Any request more specific than save me

would be so granular as to be worthless.


It can’t be prayer if you’re standing

at your kitchen counter, wearing an apron


and a far-off look. It can’t be prayer

if you’re walking in your neighborhood,


muttering to yourself, while Orion

keeps buckling and unbuckling his belt


over the houses. It can’t be prayer if you have

the expectation of privacy. If you think


no one’s listening. As a child I believed

so fiercely in the power of my own mind,


when I thought apple, I half-expected

a real one, large and red, to appear


in my hand. Now I know better. I talk

to myself. Sometimes I even answer.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”