Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems

Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems

by Charlie Smith
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A stunning collection from a poet who “writes with a scalding aortal brilliance that leaves the reader drunk on dream” (New York Times Book Review).
Selecting from among Charlie Smith’s seven previous collections and including more than forty astonishing new poems, Jump Soul represents work from the career of a poet who “writes with a

Overview

A stunning collection from a poet who “writes with a scalding aortal brilliance that leaves the reader drunk on dream” (New York Times Book Review).
Selecting from among Charlie Smith’s seven previous collections and including more than forty astonishing new poems, Jump Soul represents work from the career of a poet who “writes with a scalding aortal brilliance that leaves the reader drunk on dream” (New York Times Book Review). From the lush Southern landscapes of Red Roads (1987) and the haunted longing of Heroin (2000) to the bold eroticism of Women of America (2004) and, most recently, the fresh and exuberant Word Comix (2009), Smith reminds us “that we don’t really know what beauty is until we’ve looked hard at the horror that throws beauty into bright relief” (David Kirby, New York Times). Beauty in Smith’s poetry is mixed with harrowing darkness; it is “the rescued returned to the floods / and fruit pickers, those who catch beauty / aflight on the sweet-smelling breeze, authentic characters / messed up, dead on the floor / of western motels, crapped out jinxed, lost / to the boulevards.” Smith is a poet of “shimmering energy” (Mary Oliver). His work, brutal in its honesty and stunning in its lyricism, is represented in all of its extraordinary range in this new collection.
From “Collected First Lines”I’m sure there is meaning,
and I know it’s sometimes more interesting to stand in a road than to move along it,though even this, said with such confidence just a minute ago,
explains nothing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/24/2014
Poet and novelist Smith (Word Comix) opens with a generous offering of new poems before selecting from his seven previous collections. He finds beauty in past addictions and broken marriages, a teeming mesh of impenetrable wordiness, sorrow, and intricately textured environments. Smith explores regret while moving forward with equal abandon: “I’d walk out on myself if I could,” he writes in “Late Days.” His poems work best when stripped of their habit of big-word bravado: “sometimes what passes on from us/ has little to do with what we hoped, but nonetheless/ carries word of who we were and what we found.” Often compared to Charles Wright for his rich descriptions of place, Smith should also be acknowledged for his smart poetic turns—he often ends poems with an open door, an ominous or luminous cadence. “As For Trees” employs lush arboreal images as a loose timeline for the women he has known: “spatters of scarlet in the white, vague yellow musings, blue silk bits, rouged lip skin peeled off and crumpled up.” “Beds” echoes his dynamic movement through life: “nights of delightful smells,/ nights on the river, by the sea, inland nights/ spoken of in hushed voices, nights by the wayside,/ nights come to bed late for no reason.” (Mar.)
Gerald Stern
“I have always deeply respected, indeed loved, Charlie Smith’s poems. Thirty years now.”
David Bottoms
“For pure, raw power of language, nobody in his generation comes close to Charlie Smith. But more than this, he explores with a rare and brutal honesty the abiding question of reacting humanely to a confusing and callous world. Very often in a Charlie Smith poem we enter the country of the anguished, the country of the ‘emotionally demolished.’ Our souls suffer and struggle, yet we endure and come out strengthened, awakened to the brilliance of the world and the joy of being human. Jump Soul is simply a magnificent book, the testament of a genuine artist. Charlie Smith is among the handful of the finest writers of his generation.”
Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
Smith is an Aga Khan Prize-winning author of fiction (Crystal River) and the winner of the National Poetry Series Award for his debut, Red Roads. His sixth collection combines elements of both genres and exemplifies his style. The poems generally have lengthy, proselike (but not prosaic) lines, reminiscent of poetry by Walt Whitman. Their overall subject is the will to survive despite disillusionment. The bleakest poems—e.g., "I Speak to Fewer People"—echo Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, while other, more upbeat works focus on a moment of saving grace; "Dusk Like the Messiah" ends by combining meaning and mystery: "unencumbered tenderness seeps into crevices and conventions where the one speaking,/ for just a second looks up from the discourse and goes quiet as he gets it." VERDICT With their long, loose lines, the best poems here rush down the page until they reach their just-right end. They don't run out of energy but instead stop to contemplate what happened and why. In that split second, the words flash their often brilliant message.—C. Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393240221
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
03/24/2014
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
755,999
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Charlie Smith is the author of seven previous poetry collections, seven novels, and a book of novellas. He has won the Aga Khan Prize, the Levinson Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book, Red Roads, was chosen for the National Poetry Series and received the Great Lakes New Poets Award. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Harper’s, New Republic, Nation, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Three of his novels have been named New York Times Notable Books. He lives in New York City and Key West, Florida.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >