Maggie Smith on her midlife reappearing act

Like most of the rest of the world, I first discovered today’s guest Maggie Smith (no, not the legendary British actress, the American poet) when her poem, Good Bones went viral on social media thrusting her into the news on both sides of the Atlantic, featured on primetime TV and was read at an event by Meryl Streep. 

It’s the kind of exposure people dream of, but in Maggie’s own words “my marriage was never the same after that”. And I know that sentiment is something that will resonate with so many of you.

Maggie’s new book, her debut memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful is about the collapse of that marriage, but it’s also about the start of something new, how in losing their shared history and knowledge of the future, she began to build a new story - her own. 

Maggie joined me from Ohio to talk about putting herself back together after sudden success destroyed her marriage, being a service provider in your own home, how she got herself back after years of bargaining herself away and why we keep having the same conversation about women and ambition. We also compared our Strong First Daughter Energy and she introduced me to the concept of an emotional alchemist.

If you liked this episode you might enjoy my conversations with Dani Shapiro and Curtis Sittenfeld.

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on, including You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith, and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.

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