Category Archives: WordsDay

RIP Galway Kinnell

One of our greatest poets has died at 87.

I had the privilege of seeing Kinnell read while I was at Iowa State in the late ’80s. He did some new things – things he’d been working on during the flight out, in fact – but this was the high point of the evening.

Thank you, Galway. Sleep well.

WordsDay: a couple of recommendations

CATEGORY: WordsDayFirst, I hope you checked out today’s outstanding S&R LitJournal offering from Changming Yuan. If not, you really oughta.

Second, in addition to being a talented writer, Changming also edits Poetry Pacific in Vancouver. Give it a look. In particular, I really liked the set from Laurence Overmire – very vivid and immediate, I thought.

Finally, a literary journal that published some of my work last year is back with their latest issue. The Winter 2013 iteration of Amethyst Arsenic features no fewer than 18 poets, and by all means give a read to “The Sound of Oxygen” by Lizi Gilad. Congrats to publisher Samantha Milowsky and her staff on another great effort.

Happy WordsDay.

The incompleteness of the soul: an insider’s non-review of Completeness of the Soul: The Life and Opinions of Jay Breeze, Rock Star

I’ve been thinking about Completeness of the Soul: The Life and Opinions of Jay Breeze, Rock Star, the third novel from my friend and fellow scrogue Jim Booth. I finished reading it a few days ago, but for me it’s been a slightly disjointed experience because I’ve seen most of it in its pieces before: chapters like “Fins” and “The Balcony Scene” have been previously published as standalone short stories and there are sections (the “Rock Star Handbook”) that Jim originally developed as an offering for an SMS entertainment company in which I was a  partner. So I’ve been familiar for years with the component elements, but this was my first encounter with the unified book in context.

After several days of reflection, I find myself musing on things that many readers and reviewers might not have twigged on. Read more

Frost’s ‘Road Not Taken’: the perfect metaphor for America in 2012…and not in a good way


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

While I’ve never conducted formal research on the question, it has always seemed to me that America’s favorite poem is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” (AmericanPoems.com says it’s number three, and frankly, I’d like a look at their methodology. “i carry your heart with me” and “Messy Room” at one and two? Seriously?)

Even people who neither know nor care a whit about poetry are familiar with the work, at least in passing, and I’m sometimes surprised to find them smiling as they think of it. Why, I wonder. Read more

WordsDay Special: take a poet to the polls

Today is a day for politics and all that signifies. I suppose, as dark as the times have been of late, we might be forgiven if we approach the polls with a bit of cynicism. Certainly many of our very greatest poets have shared our misgivings over the political forces that shape our lives and dictate our opportunities, including my personal hero, William Butler Yeats.

If you’d like to bolster your perspective, I recommend a quick trip over to The Agonist, where Bruce Jacobs has a Poem for Tuesday that’s exceptionally salient for the task ahead. Read more

Shameless self-promo warning: Sam Smith’s bitchin’ new Facebook poetry page

In addition to being a blogger and a marketing whore, I’m a poet. Actually, that’s what I enjoy the most and what I’m best at. Sadly, poetry doesn’t pay the way I’d like. Still, I do it because it matters a great deal to me. Lately I’ve been writing more and thinking more about how I can better promote my work and be more effective at publishing.

To this end, I’ve launched a new Facebook page: Samuel Smith Poetry, and if you appreciate the magnificent ways in which words can be twisted to do our bidding, you’re invited to stop by. Here’s what you’ll find: Read more

Poem in Your Pocket Day: I can’t make up my mind…

As Chris noted earlier this morning, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. The rules are simple enough, but I may need a bigger pocket. For one thing, I can’t make up my mind as to what my favorite poem is. And second, I have this bad tendency toward long poems.

The wall on my office at work features portraits of four great poets: TS Eliot, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Charles Wright. I love writers like Shakespeare (duh) and Blake and Donne and Arnold, to name a few, but these four are my favorites. It follows, then, that one of them is potentially responsible for my favorite poem, right?

Here are the candidates:

Eliot: “The Waste Land”: Many students have had this heavy, dark master work forced upon them, and experience tells me that most didn’t appreciate it. However, the poet in me has never shaken the influence it exerted. Even today, a good 30+ years after my first encounter with the Unreal City, it’s hard for me to write without being powerfully conscious of Eliot’s presence. Read more