Tracy K. Smith’s lovely, unflinching poems

Smith is acutely aware of injustice and violence—and remarkably hopeful about the possibility of reconciliation.

In “Wade in the Water,” the title poem of Tracy K. Smith’s new poetry collection, the poet en­counters the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters:

One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her . . . .

The Shouters preserve, in song and dance, aspects of the religious and cultural heritage of African American slavery. Horrors are juxtaposed with love: