Synopses & Reviews
In the hands of Bruce Smith, devotions are momentary stops to listen to the motor of history. They are meditations and provocations. They are messages received from the chatter of the street and from transmissions as distant as Memphis and al-Mansur. Bulletins and interruptions come from brutal elsewheres and from the interior where music puts electrodes on the body to take an EKG. These poems visit high schools, laundromats, motels, films, and dreams in order to measure the American hunger and thirst. They are interested in the things we profess to hold most dear as well as whats unspoken and unbidden. While were driving, while riding a bus, while receiving a call, while passing through an X-ray machine, the personal is intersected—sometimes violently, sometimes tenderly—with the hum and buzz of the culture. The culture, whether New York or Tuscaloosa, Seattle or Philadelphia, past or present, carries the burden of race and “someones idea of beauty.” The poems fluctuate between the two poles of “lullaby and homicide” before taking a vow to remain on earth, to look right and left, to wait and to witness.
"Smith's energetic, muscular and all-around superb sixth collection appears to contain almost everything. The onrushing poems in long-lined free verse, long sentences and longer lists address the most intimate subjects 'the faces of all those you love while you're loving/ the one you love' along with the most far-flung: his book throws down an almost Whitmanesque challenge to anyone who says that present-day poetry cannot see America whole. As in earlier books, Smith (Songs for Two Voices) does well by the grittier, and the more macho, people and things of these States, such as 'an ex-con... on parole, careful to defer to the pushy,/ the striving, the vaulting who have inherited the earth since his send up/ for his crimes.' Several pages look with a hard tenderness at townscapes and people of the old industrial heartland, from the pollution, corruption, and rock and roll clubs of 1980s Providence, R.I., to present-day Syracuse, N.Y. (where Smith teaches). But he is never narrow, nor single-minded: global climate change and the scope of all history ('We were the infinite apes at infinite keyboards'), the sonnet and the history of sonnets, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, 9/11, a Chinese restaurant in Alabama, high school shop class, maternal elegy, Pindaric ode, and stellar astronomy all light up at least a page. Smith is consistently more ambitious than most of his peers. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Devotions reads like a series of protean Ars Poeticas. The poems glow with ghost rhymes, hypnotic catalogues, and lyric enchantments that constitute 'a blues about the rules for distance and difficult love.' Bruce Smith is a poet I always read with awe and hunger. This amazing new book overwhelms me in the best possible ways."
"Smith's devotions are authoritative and capacious. Neither querulous nor slavish, they give pleasure, which is what we ask of them."
"In poems alternately sharp, slippery, and tender, Smith finds a way to take in almost everything—'Shooter Protocol,' Charlie Parker, high school shop class—moving seamlessly between critique and embrace. Smith's been closely watched for several books now, and this may be his best collection yet."
"Bruce Smith's new poems move fast and travel far. . . . Most books of new poems are either too long or leave readers wanting more. Devotions does neither; it is ample as well as ambitious, agile and unpredictable as well as viscerally affecting. For all that its born-to-run characters yearn for escape, it's a book to stay inside; it's exhausting to read, and yet it's a book to get lost in, one you won't exhaust any time soon."
“Carters is a poetry of a resolute middle distance, firmly of this world: between the dust under the earth and the dust of space there exists the place that the poem can illumine.”—Helen Vendler, New York Review of Books
“[Carter] writes American poetry the way that William Faulkner wrote American novels. . . . [Carters poems] have the homespun flavor of our native music—ballads, country blues, and sweet, clear, understated lyrics.”—Sally A. Lodge, Publishers Weekly
"Jared Carter writes the kind of poetry that death does not touch. He brings us a very different atmosphere from this crazy techie world, with a command of metaphor and the bones of memory that do not lie. We trust this poet's vision."—Grace Cavalieri, danmurano.com
"Those of us who practice the craft of poetry will want to keep Darkened Rooms of Summer close at hand, so we can study these poems, and wonder how Jared Carter ushers us so seamlessly into his world, and thus, more deeply into our own."—James Crews, basalt
"Jared Carter's poetry is pure, home-spun Americana, full of small-town people and places in the tradition of Edgar Lee Masters and Sherwood Anderson."—Portland Book Review
“No Confession, No Mass is lyrical, inventive, and full of surprises, offering us fresh ways of seeing old stories. The music is a delight throughout—agile and apt—language enjoying itself! Jennifer Perrine writes: ‘and returned her whole, startled raw, launched her back into the world.’ This is what fine poetry can do—and No Confession, No Mass does it.”—Ellen Bass, author of Like a Beggar
For nearly half a century, Jared Carter has been quietly mapping the American heartland. Line by line, his poetry has shown us the landscape, sounded the voices, conjured the music, and tested the silence of the ever-changing and yet ever-constant Midwest that figures so prominently in the American story. And yet what we find in Carters poetry is endlessly new.
Here, in poems selected from his first five books, is the summer-long buzz of the cicada and the crack of the cue ball, the young rebel on his big Harley, and the YMCA secretary who backstrokes her way across the indoor pool. Here, too, are thirty new poems in fixed form that illustrate Carters continued quest for a poetry of “universal interest.” Taken together, these selections are, truly, poetry in the American grain.
Whether exploring the porous borders between sin and virtue or examining the lives of saints and mystics to find the human experiences in stories of the divine, the poems in No Confession, No Mass move toward restoration and reunion.
Jennifer Perrine’s poems ask what healing might be possible in the face of sexual and gendered violence worldwide—in New Delhi, in Steubenville, in Juárez, and in neighborhoods and homes never named in the news. The book reflects on our own complicity in violence, “not confessing, but unearthing” former selves who were brutal and brutalized—and treating them with compassion. As the poems work through these seeming paradoxes, they also find joy, celebrating transformations and second chances, whether after the failure of a marriage, the return of a reluctant soldier from war, or the everyday passage of time.
Through the play of language in received forms—abecedarian, sonnet, ballad, ghazal, villanelle, ballade—and in free verse buzzing with assonance, alliteration, and rhyme, these poems sing their resistance to violence in all its forms.
About the Author
Jennifer Perrine is an associate professor of English and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University. Perrine is the author of In the Human Zoo, recipient of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and The Body Is No Machine, winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry.
Table of Contents
Devotion: New York, July
Devotion: Thirst Reduction
Devotion: High School
Devotion: Hunan House
Devotion: Fort Drum
Devotion: Red Roof Inn
Devotion: The Burnt-Over District
Devotion: Dizzy Gillespie
Devotion: Js Dream
Devotion: Al Green
Devotion: New York, 1970
Devotion: Josephine P
Devotion: The Garment District
Devotion: Wuthering Heights
Devotion: The Bus to Utica
Devotion: Syracuse en Rose
Devotion: The Game
Devotion: Infant Joy
Devotion: Infant Sorrow
Devotion: The Republic
Devotion: Active Shooter Protocol
Devotion: Car Wreck
Devotion: The Insects
Devotion: Race Traitor
Devotion: The UnbiddenDevotion: Fly