Patti Smith's recent National Book Award victory led the Huffington Post's John Lundberg to post a short appreciation of her poetic work. Smith's poetry, according to Lundberg, sidesteps the usual rock-star naivete and plants itself firmly in a tradition stretching from Baudelaire to Ginsberg. However, he also argues that her work moves beyond the cliched beat energetics, and can also take the form of more traditional, staid verse:

When Smith chooses to constrain her ecstatic tendencies, she can still write a very good poem. "Tara," a quiet, well-paced and mysterious poem that you can read here, first appeared in the May 2007 issue of The New Yorker.

Smith chose to leave the tragedy at the heart of "Tara" unspoken. She only later explained "The Best American Poetry" that the poem deals with the tragic shooting of 32 students and faculty in April 2007 at Virginia Tech. Tara is in fact Smith's sister, and the poem takes place right after she learns that her daughter, who was attending classes at Virginia Tech, is safe.

Originally Published: November 22nd, 2010