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“For Dear Life” means two things to me. One, it’s the way I’m holding on these days. I’m holding on—to the good, the real, the true—for dear life. Maybe you are, too. It’s been…a time. But the other side of this phrase for me is the genuine affection and genuine wonder I feel for this life. This beautiful, surprising, complicated, bewildering-in-ways-large-and-small life. This dear life. 

So why a newsletter and why now? As I see it, For Dear Life is a way for me to have a closer, more direct relationship with readers, writers, and teachers. Yes, you. Hello! (*waves awkwardly from my writing desk*) No more being at the mercy of the algorithm! I hope this will be a more personal, more durable space for us to create the kind of community we can’t create on social media. A place to talk about writing, share ideas, and be inspired. A place to experiment and try new things. I’ll share behind-the-scenes looks at poems and essays, craft tips and writing prompts, teacher resources, writing advice via pick-my-brain Q&As, sneak peeks at new drafts and book projects, and curated lists of things that are bringing me joy. 

Whether you sign up for free or upgrade to a paid subscription, I hope you’ll join me. Let’s do this.

Free subscribers have access to

  • Behind-the-scenes looks at poems and essays: annotations and author’s notes

  • Craft tips and creative pep talks for writers and teachers

  • Curated lists of things that are bringing me joy: books, songs, films, recipes, skincare products, memes, gift ideas, unexpected finds, you name it

Paid subscribers receive all free content plus 

  • Sneak peeks at new drafts and book projects, including video/audio notes

  • Writing and teaching resources that go beyond the free craft tips and pep talks: writing prompts, lesson ideas, revision hacks, etc.

  • Pick-my-brain Q&As, community conversations, and occasional interviews with other creative folks I admire 

  • My gratitude—an immeasurable amount—because being a paid subscriber means you’re directly supporting me and my work

Either way, welcome and thank you! I’m glad we’re in this together.

About me

I’m a poet, writer, editor, and teacher. I’ve published several books of poetry and prose, including Good Bones (you might know the title poem) and two recent bestsellers, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change and Goldenrod. My newest book, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, was an instant New York Times bestseller. That hasn’t sunk in yet.

My poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Guardian, the Paris Review, Tin House, the Washington Post, and The Best American Poetry. When I’m not writing, teaching in an MFA Program, or editing books for other poets, I’m usually hanging out with my two favorite human beings: my daughter and son. We live in the Columbus, Ohio, area. Yes, it’s my hometown. You can also find me on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.

What readers say

“To read Maggie Smith is to embrace the achingly precious beauty of the present moment.”  —Time

“Maggie Smith is that rare poet who can inspire you, break your heart, and make you stop astonished at the planet around you—all in the same poem, often in the same moment. The wisdom of Goldenrod is more than hard-earned, it is a gift.” 
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic 

You Could Make This Place Beautiful is nothing less than a cathartic miracle.” 
—Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love   

“[You Could Make This Place Beautiful] is also a lesson in the craft of putting one’s life on the page….Smith’s conjuring of beauty through pain and her special blend of vulnerability and encouragement go down like a healing tonic.”
Booklist, starred review

“It’s in these essays that Smith exerts her superpower as a writer: her ability to find the perfect concrete metaphor for inchoate human emotions and explore it with empathy and honesty.”  —Slate

Keep Moving speaks to you like an encouraging friend reminding you that you can feel and survive deep loss, sink into life’s deep beauty, and constantly, constantly make yourself new.” —Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Untamed

Subscribe to For Dear Life with Maggie Smith

A newsletter about writing & other things that make this life dear—from the poet, not the dame


Not the dame, the other one. NYT bestselling author of poetry & prose. Teacher & editor.