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,
About the Author
Charlie Smith is the author of eight previous poetry collections, eight 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.
I have always deeply respected, indeed loved, Charlie Smith’s poems. Thirty years now.
— Gerald Stern
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.
— David Bottoms
A generous offering… Smith explores regret while moving forward with equal abandon.