Contributor: Ellen McGrath Smith

Ellen McGrath Smith teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic program. Her writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Los Angeles Review, Quiddity, Cimarron, and other journals, and in several anthologies, including Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Smith has been the recipient of an Orlando Prize, an Academy of American Poets award, a Rainmaker Award from Zone 3magazine, and a 2007 Individual Artist grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her second chapbook, Scatter, Feed, was published by Seven Kitchens Press in the fall of 2014, and her book, Nobody’s Jackknife (West End Press, 2015) explores alcoholism and yoga through poetry. She has written on poetry as prayer for Talking Writing.

Love Calling in the Wilderness

New Works from Poets Li-Young Lee and Tracy K. Smith

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” This line, from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda shared as part of his award acceptance speech at the 2016 Tonys, reminded a world grieving over the brutal massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, of the one human truth worth fighting to hold onto. It is... Read more

Can We Believe in Light?

Pittsburgh Poets Contend with the Tree of Life Massacre

We asked regular Bearings contributor Ellen McGrath Smith to gather some poems from Pittsburgh writers for our Tree of Life Special Issue. Alas, an email glitch kept the piece from getting to us before publication of the issue. We share them now as an opportunity for further reflection on the particular tragedy at Tree of Life and on the culture of gun violence... Read more

Plowshares, Pruning Hooks, and Poems

Bridging Faith, Literature, and Advocacy

"Poetry makes nothing happen," W.H. Auden famously wrote in "In Memory of W.B. Yeats." And indeed, writing poetry often feels that way, since it's on the fringes of both literature and public discourse. Writing in other genres—essays, even stories—seems closer to the world of action, of making things happen. It's said (apocryphally) that Lincoln, upon meeting Harriet... Read more

Iconic Truth

Seeing Resurrection Through Tears

With the year-in-year-out cycle of holidays—sacred and secular alike—it’s easy to think of Easter, and the resurgence of life that it celebrates, as a foregone conclusion. I remember going out to play one Good Friday afternoon when I was about 10; we kids were gathering junk in the woods to build some kind of fort. At the top of a ravine, I stopped and thought... Read more

Humble Clay Cups

Poetry for Faith and Healing

Everyone seems to want to beat up on 2016. On social media, it’s been referred to as a dumpster fire as well as a sentient creature that will rain down more of its wrath if it hears you maligning it. There are ample reasons why people—in my bubble, at least—want to malign 2016. Syria, as I write this, is a cradle of slaughter; Syria’s refugees, fleeing this... Read more