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Table Of Contents

devotion: sleep
devotion: providence
devotion: october
devotion: amerika
devotion: rimbaud
devotion: the game
devotion: baseball
devotion: infant joy
devotion: the republic
devotion: car wreck
devotion: nature
devotion: the insects
devotion: midrash
devotion: roman
P. 1
Devotions

Devotions

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Published by UChicagoPress

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 what’s unspoken and unbidden. While we’re 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 “someone’s 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.

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 what’s unspoken and unbidden. While we’re 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 “someone’s 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.

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Publish date: Mar 15, 2011
Added to Scribd: Apr 05, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780226764368
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Publishers Weekly reviewed this
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

2011-03-21, Publishers Weekly
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