Maggie Smith: Writing in a Way That Is Brave, Real, and True

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August 8, 2023

Maggie Smith: Writing in a Way That Is Brave, Real, and True

Maggie Smith August 8, 2023

Bestselling poet Maggie Smith has a gift for embracing the complexity of our human experience—and for writing about it with piercing intensity, clarity, and beauty. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Maggie about her approach to her craft and to life, and how writing can serve as a pathway to self-discovery and release.

Featuring a reading of the beloved poem “Good Bones,” this insightful episode of Insights at the Edge explores metaphor and life in sensory experience; poetic memoir; Maggie’s “drill-down” exercise; entering the territory of our pain; balancing a creative life and domestic responsibilities; the notion of “containing multitudes”; being an integrated, whole person; intuition and the deep knowing of what is brave, real, and true; sitting with the splinters (instead of sanding them down); allowing “full wingspan” for both individuals in a relationship; endurance versus closure; forgiveness versus acceptance; taking a bird’s-eye view of our experiences; making life more beautiful for everyone; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Maggie Smith is the award-winning author of “You Could Make This Place Beautiful,” “Good Bones,” “The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison,” “Lamp of the Body,” and the national bestsellers “Goldenrod” and “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change.” A 2011 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has also received several Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been widely published, appearing in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, and more. You can follow her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.

Author photo © Devon Albeit

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Subscribe to Insights at the Edge to hear all of Tami’s interviews (transcripts available too!), featuring Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, and many more.

Meet Your Host: Tami Simon

Founded Sounds True in 1985 as a multimedia publishing house with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom. She hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today's leading teachers. Tami lives with her wife, Julie M. Kramer, and their two spoodles, Rasberry and Bula, in Boulder, Colorado.

Photo © Jason Elias

Also By Author

Maggie Smith: Writing in a Way That Is Brave, Real, an...

Bestselling poet Maggie Smith has a gift for embracing the complexity of our human experience—and for writing about it with piercing intensity, clarity, and beauty. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Maggie about her approach to her craft and to life, and how writing can serve as a pathway to self-discovery and release.

Featuring a reading of the beloved poem “Good Bones,” this insightful episode of Insights at the Edge explores metaphor and life in sensory experience; poetic memoir; Maggie’s “drill-down” exercise; entering the territory of our pain; balancing a creative life and domestic responsibilities; the notion of “containing multitudes”; being an integrated, whole person; intuition and the deep knowing of what is brave, real, and true; sitting with the splinters (instead of sanding them down); allowing “full wingspan” for both individuals in a relationship; endurance versus closure; forgiveness versus acceptance; taking a bird’s-eye view of our experiences; making life more beautiful for everyone; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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Maggie Smith: Writing in a Way That Is Brave, Real, an...

Bestselling poet Maggie Smith has a gift for embracing the complexity of our human experience—and for writing about it with piercing intensity, clarity, and beauty. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Maggie about her approach to her craft and to life, and how writing can serve as a pathway to self-discovery and release.

Featuring a reading of the beloved poem “Good Bones,” this insightful episode of Insights at the Edge explores metaphor and life in sensory experience; poetic memoir; Maggie’s “drill-down” exercise; entering the territory of our pain; balancing a creative life and domestic responsibilities; the notion of “containing multitudes”; being an integrated, whole person; intuition and the deep knowing of what is brave, real, and true; sitting with the splinters (instead of sanding them down); allowing “full wingspan” for both individuals in a relationship; endurance versus closure; forgiveness versus acceptance; taking a bird’s-eye view of our experiences; making life more beautiful for everyone; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

How Reframing Conflicts Can Actually Help Your Relatio...

In the Internal Family Systems model, the practice of speaking for, rather than from, parts when they are triggered is an important aspect of Self-leadership. When people receive a message from you, it has two components: the content (the actual words) and the energy behind the words. When your protective parts are upset and speak directly to another person, invariably they will trigger parts in the other. When, on the other hand, you listen to your protectors and then speak for them, from your Self, the message is received in a very different way, even if you use the same words that your parts are saying. Your words lose their judgmental sting or their off-putting desperation and coerciveness. Instead, your respect and compassion for the other person will be heard in addition to the courage of your convictions.

Self energy has a soothing effect on any parts it touches, whether they are in you or in another person. When your parts trust that you will speak for them, they feel less driven to take over and explode at people. What they really want is to have a voice—to be listened to by you and to have their position represented to others.

Practice: SELF-LEADERSHIP AS A WAY OF INTERACTING IN A CONFLICT

These practices—remaining the “I” in the storm or the empty vessel, and speaking for rather than from your parts—can be combined into a general way of relating as a couple when you have conflict. When you begin to fight, each of you can try the following:

  1. Pause
  2. Focus inside and find the parts that are triggered
  3. Ask those parts to relax and let you speak for them
  4. Tell your partner about what you found inside (speak for your parts), and
  5. Listen to your partner from your open-hearted Self

When a couple is embattled and each focuses inside, as in step 2, usually they only hear from their protectors. If it feels safe enough, moving an extra step toward vulnerability can reap big rewards. That step involves staying inside long enough to learn about the exiles that your protectors are guarding, and then telling your partner about these vulnerable parts. In most cases, when one partner has the courage to reveal the vulnerability that drives their protectiveness, the atmosphere immediately softens and the couple shifts toward Self-to-Self communication.

This is an excerpt from You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For: Applying Internal Family Systems to Intimate Relationships by Richard C. Schwartz, PhD.

Stan Tatkin: In Each Other’s Care

Dr. Stan Tatkin is uniquely talented at helping couples shift from being in each other’s faces to being in each other’s care. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks to the innovative therapist and author about his new book, In Each Other’s Care: A Guide to the Most Common Relationship Conflicts and How to Work Through Them, discussing some of the research-based, practical strategies he has developed in his celebrated PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) model.

Give a listen to this gritty, honest, informative, and empowering conversation exploring: cultivating secure functioning relationships; why couples must create their own culture of shared power, respect, and collaboration; finding the balance between independence and interdependence; the one-directional nature of codependency; becoming your partner’s whisperer; why “earned love” is what endures; the fantasy of the same page; attachment versus love; mutual purpose and care as ingredients for an awesome relationship; the physical toll of an insecure functioning relationship; the Sherlocking technique; the power of eye contact; practicing quick repair; touch: an unequivocal signal of friendliness; the basic need in relationship: you and I are OK; the Big Five: sex, money, kids, time, and mess; jealousy and envy; longevity and happiness through co-creating the architecture of your relationship and understanding how you interact under stress; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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