Photo Credit Oiselle Ryan Warner

Maggie Smith & Laurie Wagner

Setting the Wild Angel Free

27 Powers welcomes Maggie Smith, beloved poet, and author of the soon to be published memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful.

It’s always thrilling when a writer I love confesses that some of their best work started out as messy pieces of writing that had no sense of direction. It debunks the fantasy I sometimes have that great writers sit down and turn straw into gold in one fell swoop.

That’s why I’m so excited to bring Maggie Smith into our classroom to not only talk about what to do with what she calls brain vomit – these wonderfully messy pieces we write – but then to ask ourselves how to zero in on what these pieces could possibly become.

Does the piece want to be a poem? An essay? A book?

In this conversation with Maggie, we’ll cover:

  • How to understand what you have on those pages, and what it wants to become
  • How to take our raw, uncensored work, and begin shaping and finding the right container for it to express itself in.
  • How important trial and error is when creating.
  • How Maggie took the tools of poetry into her memoir.
  • The nerve it takes to create from nothing and keep going.
  • The nuts and bolts of where to begin and where to go from there.

You will walk away with ideas for your own messy, beautiful writing so that the greater truth and beauty at the center of your work can come to life.

I hope you’ll join us!

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is the author of five books of poetry and prose: Goldenrod (Simon & Schuster, 2021) and Keep Moving (Simon & Schuster, 2020), both national bestsellers; Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015); and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005). She is also the author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful, her forthcoming memoir from Atria Books, out April 11, 2023.

Lamp of the Body won the 2003 Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press. The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison won the 2012 Dorset Prize, selected by Kimiko Hahn, and the 2016 Gold Medal in Poetry for the Independent Publishers Book Awards. The collection was also a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Montaigne Medal, and poems from this collection were awarded an NEA Fellowship in poetry. Maggie is also the author of three prizewinning chapbooks: Disasterology (Dream Horse Press, 2016); The List of Dangers (Kent State/Wick Poetry Series, 2010); and Nesting Dolls (Pudding House, 2005). Her latest project is a Substack newsletter about writing and the creative life, For Dear Life.

Visit Maggie online at –

Live Online :: Maggie Smith & Laurie Wagner

This is the video replay of the live February 2023 class.