Byron in Baghdad by Mike Smith
|Byron in Baghdad||Mike Smith||BlazeVOX [books]|
"How is it Shelley truly did believe that Byron's Don Juan would be the great poem of its time? How is it that satire and pastiche become the most durable monuments to our romance? to our romance of ourselves and of our aspirations? With Byron in Baghdad, Mike Smith has, against all the odds and against all the currents of our present depravity, written a work of beautiful renunciation. Chaste and chastening, these poems are pure. Their urgency will only increase over time."
Rarely has formalism been as fun and purposeful as in Byron in Baghdad, Mike Smith’s third collection of poems. With astonishing wit, Smith interrogates Byron, chipmunks, a mermaid’s would-be lover, war, consumerism and its trappings, a dying neighbor, folks enjoying an afternoon in a college-town park, and Faust. “I know how this must end / but how is it going to sound…?” Smith queries in the poem “Chipmunk Burlesque,” and also throughout the entire collection. His masterful meters, internal rhymes and heroic couplets sound great; they also create multiple layers of meaning, all increasingly urgent, until we affirm with him, “Bernadette, / these are not rhetorical questions.” Indeed, Smith’s poems dive into the over-determined conditions of our cultural and social lives, even our forms of expression, even our prosodic forms. I am reminded of what happens when you flip a tapestry over and see all the connecting threads you never imagined or suspected because they are invisible on the other side. These poems invite you to pull some threads, tie new ones together. In other words, they give us new purchase on our souls and an irresistible urge to play.
A native of Philippi, West Virginia, Mike Smith is Assistant Professor of Poetry at Delta State University and the author of three collections of poetry, including Multiverse (2010) also from BlazeVOX Books. His translation of the first part of Goethe’s Faust: A Tragedy appears in 2012.
· Paperback: 100 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-094-1