Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From My Top Shelf


Here is another favorite prized book from my collection. This one is a small chapbook by the American poet Dave Smith who writes some of the most rigorous and imaginative narrative poetry I have ever encountered. His poetry is ruefully meditative, at times, while in other instances, tenderly poignant, and able to integrate one man’s unblinking poetic conviction to witness life as it is lived with a capacious sense of the American Southern conciousness.

His poetry is distinctly American and I envy him for it as we Canadian poets are still engaged in that wonderful enervating argument about what constitutes good poetry in this country.

I love this chapbook for Smith’s poetry, of course, but also the time and care that went into its production. I wonder why more Canadian presses are not producing such lovely little books as objects of art. The answer I’m afraid probably has something to do with cultural despair and the mistaken belief that the poetry buying public’s appetite for such beautiful little chapbooks has atrophied. Poetry books have become more shiny, more glossy, and, ultimately, more disposable which is a shame.


This chapbook is a first edition in hand-sewn wrappers with illustrations by Barry Moser.

It was published in 1981 by Tamarack Editions and limited to an edition of 300 copies. Another 36 copies were bound in cloth.

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