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Selected by Maggie Smith as 2020 Winner of the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

“Before I Had the Word invites us to consider what is essential and what is sacred: language, the body, pleasure, faith. It invites us to consider who we are, how we inhabit ourselves, how words—‘words that give and words that take away’—shape our experience. There are poems in this book that are etched in me now. Poems I’ll return to again and again. Poems I’ll teach. Poems I’ll share with my own daughter. This book is a gift.”
—Maggie Smith, author of Keep Moving

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