To The Dark Angels by Jared Smith (NYQ Books, 2015)
Reviewed by George Wallace
BREAKING INTO THE SACRED
Jared Smith asks the big questions of small things in his new collection from New York Quarterly Books. Poems that seek to unlock, like a sad eyed silouhette gazing out a window. Poems that search the essential, that thing "not made of flesh and bone" which is yet contained in flesh and bone—"the flesh that shivers between beings."
With this collection, Smith challenges himself to learn how to say what needs to be said "among those who speak only with words," because beyond their dull "made" nature, words are "gossamer things/that shift ideas that have no place or have all place in time and place."
Along the way, he ticks off a virtual pantheon of poets, each a little fellow raging against the storm, confronted by the problem of how to
break into the sacred from the grasses though they are filled with sun as are the arches of an abandoned barn gone to weather where men once worked
(Shivering Between Beings)
There's something of Whitman in all this—and Philip Larkin really, for whom visiting a near abandoned church—"a serious house on serious earth"—reflects an ambivalence between the spiritual and the institutionally religious. But barns and wagon ruts are no anachronism to Smith—they are made all of a piece, "one species green fern and the fox that lies down upon its fronds."
And men. And the things made by men. Including words, poems, ideas, and human reason itself—which has been around so long it "sits in a chair/rocking back and forth on a porch of a farm in Iowa/ordering pizzas from the Perseid meteor shower."
Spirit made flesh—one species, green fern, fox and pizzas ordered from the Milky Way.
Poems are pizzas. Jared Smith delivers.
To The Dark Angels by Jared Smith NYQ Books, 2015 $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-63045-003-8
Jared Smith is the author of nine previous volumes of poetry, dating from 1983, in addition to two CDs, and stage adaptations of his work in New York and Chicago. Actively involved in the literary and poetry scene for more than 40 years, he has served as an Editorial Board Member, Board Member, and Advisory Board Member of The New York Quarterly; as a Contributing Editor for Home Planet News; as Poetry Editor of Trail & Timberline; and several-time Guest Editor of The Pedestal Magazine; as well as past President of Poets & Patrons in Chicago; and host of three reading venues during the 1980s in New York’s Greenwich Village; among other ventures in the arts. Jared now lives with his wife in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, not far from Boulder, Colorado.
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