||August 1st, 2010
Barnes & Noble.com
Jared Smith's 9th volume of poetry is hard, muscular poetry drawn from the front range of The Rocky Mountains, where he now lives.
Poems about how the land shapes men and the institutions they labor in.
In “Grassroots,” the central long poem in Jared Smith’s new collection, he sets forth what serves as more than an ars poetica for the volume; he establishes a new clarion call for poets to assume again their responsibility as Shelley’s “unacknowledged legislators of the world”: “How do you define poetry if not by the human condition or communication / in ways that redefine our understanding of life with little words and / stronger actions that can set men free or lock their lives away…?” In poems built of words both little and large which continue to reflect his root influences of Whitman and Neruda, with a mite of Ginsberg and the Beats thrown in, Smith casts a wide net that seines in diverse images from nature and domestic life that revitalize our sense of the wildness of our existence on this planet. I can think of no other American poet who can credibly carry us, in the span of a single line break, from buckets of cornflakes to trawlers filled with fish—and make that connection seem inevitable. —Allen Hoey, author of Once Upon a Time at Blanche’s and Stricter Means: Selected Earlier Poems
With Grassroots, Jared Smith continues to explore human longing, sorrow, and resilience. He is intimately aware of the traditions that precede him—transcendentalism, imagism, confessionalism, and Beatnik narrative, to name a few—but he always emerges with his own distinct and resonant voice, his images primal and timeless, his sense of musicality impeccable. His content is singular, specific, concrete, but it always functions sublimely, pointing towards the grander cycles of Eros and Thanatos. Here is a poet deep with thought and rich with emotion. Grassroots is a compelling, haunting, and unforgettable collection, one that I’ll be revisiting and referencing for years to come.
—John Amen, Editor of The Pedestal Magazine; author of The Beginning of Alchemy
Rhapsodic is a word applicable to very few poets today. Jared Smith is one—triumphantly so in Grassroots. And what powerful roots these poems are. Let me speak out clear and bold: in this superb collection of lyric poems
Smith is unafraid of being bardic. He sings, he rants; he teaches, he preaches; he speaks of soul and heart and spirit and mind in language
that is both beautifully lyric and aptly didactic; he waxes political and
ecstatic, transcendental, abstract, abstruse. He is, in short, rhapsodic,
driven like Lorca to a white-hot exhortation of the truly just and an acidic
condemnation of the unjust, large and small. The title poem alone is proof enough. We have Whitman’s barbaric yawp, and now we have Jared
Smith’s contemporary rhapsodic yawp sounding like Thor’s hammer
over the boardrooms and the war rooms and the stock exchanges and the
spires and domes of the world. Poetry might not make anything happen,
but this poet knows what happens without it. Read him and be grateful.
Author of American Cool
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