Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson
Information and Pricing
978-1-64317-282-8 (paperback, $16.99); 978-1-64317-283-5 (PDF, $9.99); 978-1-64317-284-2 (EPUB, $9.99). © 2022 by Parlor Press, 159 pages
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What People Are Saying
It’s not only that Simon Smith captures like no one else the new rhythms of attention and distraction that have emerged over the last decade. In Last Morning he writes a poetry of pace that seems to walk down the page, often in little three-line clusters, creating meandering journeys that casually scramble the internal and external surfaces they negotiate. At once transcendental and grounded, these poems are intensely of their place and moment. Smith’s audible dialogue with American poets like O’Hara, Spicer, and Peter Gizzi does nothing to stop him from being an ambassador of how Britain feels today to the hypothetical North American reader. These poems will walk with you. —Daniel Katz
Reading Simon’s Smith’s nimble poems is not so different than riding a roller coaster built inside a pinball machine, where “space is a cube not a square.” Everything you bump up against is real, as the poems pivot from one sight (and site) to another “tent on the edge of town.” The reader is always being pulled along – by “song after song” full of “vital signs” from the “return of the World” to “scent is presence/welcomed to night.” Smith refolds the border between out there and in here in different and surprising ways. In Last Morning, he is open and alert to the “sun’s hum,” while knowing “the mirror swallows this side of the World.” And the “song [gets] made up as it goes along.” —John Yau
In these new poems, Simon Smith operates as a kind of lyric focus puller on the world, bringing not just image into relief but sound too. Is it rain or ruin, whiteness or witness, threat or throat? It matters. There’s an ethics of seeing and hearing at work here that depends on a precision of word choice However, these poems do not shy away from the big concepts like Truth (it’s blue broad daylight), Being (it’s in the saying) or Love (yeah yeah yeah) which are themselves constantly tested through the particular acts of poem-making. Consequently, this is a poetry of intense material presences, recalling what Hans Vaihinger called “the philosophy of as if” where the poem is the sound of a fountain clapping, where the image before what is said is song, where the future constantly awaits arrival. “Who will dice the dice” asks Smith at one point – “answer that answer.” Answer echo. Answer under erasure. Answers by a thread. —Jeff Hilson
With one ear to the rumbling background of the news, Simon Smith’s Last Morning turns the other to the urgency of song, its flickering constructions of ‘I’ and ‘you’, passing birds and unicorns. Sound and syntax are kept delicately on the point of slippage so that the reader’s ear is constantly retuned, as in the simile that could be a smile reassembled. The magnetic pull of lyric is often a process of misreading or mishearing, a hallucinatory double take on the point of sliding into dream. While these poems carry the reader into waves of ocean or sound ‘like radio code / for a provisional miracle’, they are wholly alert to phenomena, forging connections between what might exist and the more-than-human world that already does. Last morning it may be, but everything rings as if it’s the first. —Zoe Skoulding
About This Book
Last Morning is the second book in a trilogy. A selection from the first book Municipal Love Poems appeared from Muscaliet Press in 2018. Last Morning marks a shift away from poetry of place in MLP to the poetry of space: how poetry creates its own space, through its unfolding through time and space, and what kind of a politics, and what kind of a gift that might be. Trump, Brexit, the rise of the Right, migration, etc., aren’t far from the surface, and politics of the Left and alienation is always inherent. Last Morning, finds its roots in European (and some UK poets) and to a lesser extent US writers and aesthetics. So, to name a few: Denise Riley, John James, Peter Gizzi, W.S. Graham, Jack Spicer, Stevens, and then Baudelaire, Pierre Reverdy, Apollinaire, and German Romanticism, Hölderlin to Celan, Friederike Mayröcker; in music Schubert, Britten, Mahler; in philosophy Benjamin, Adorno, Bachelard, Heidegger. Last Morning speaks at least as much to a philosophical tradition as it does to a poetic one. The book falls into four parts: the eponymous ‘Last Morning’ (an investigation of endings and the politics and aesthetics of ‘ending’); ‘Poetry’s Space’ (about how poetry generates its own space, dimensions, an aesthetic politics); ‘Second Song Book: Series of Songs’ (further soundings in short song and lyric, and how through emphasis on sound, rhythm, rhyme, etc., resist appropriation and utilitarian use, as a form of political discourse). The final section is a ‘reply to’/translation of Horace’s ‘Ars Poetica’.
About the Author
Simon Smith has published nine collections of poetry. His third, Mercury (Salt Publications), was long-listed for the Costa Prize in 2007. A selected poems, More Flowers Than You Could Possibly Carry, appeared from Shearsman Books in 2016, and his latest books are some Municipal Love Poems (Muscaliet Press) and Day In Day Out (Parlor Press), and his translations of Catullus were published by Carcanet as The Books of Catullus. These three books were published in 2018. Smith is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Kent, was a Hawthornden Writing Fellow in 2009, and a judge of the National Poetry Prize in 2004. From 1991-2007 he worked at The Poetry Library in London, becoming Librarian from 2003-2007. Recently poems have appeared in Shearsman, Fortnightly Review and Molly Bloom, from an unpublished book, Midnight Arks. He is now an editor for Free Verse online magazine. He is presently also translating a selection of poems by Du Fu.
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