Gulf is one part ode and one part elegy to Smith’s Louisiana. It is a book that, all at once, questions, praises, and eulegizes its muse. Smith’s poetry works to elevate people, places, and things that are often looked over as unpoetic. Trailers, pickups, catfish, menial labor thread through Gulf. But ultimately, the book revolves around family and home. It moves back and forth between innocence and experience, the idyllic and tragic. In Gulf, the past shapes the poet, yet the poet, through so much that has been lost, has little else to access a past other than memory. Ultimately, Gulf becomes a reckoning with memory. These poems are the work of a poet leaving and losing his home, his family, his way of life. But they are not merely past-centric. Loss is a centrifugal force, an inciting incident that leads to the question,what is on the other side? What is left of a state that every year falls farther into the Gulf of Mexico? What is left when the poet moves three thousand miles away? What is it like to come home? Can the poet come home? What remains when the poet leaves? What is he able to bring with him? Though Smith’s relationship to his home is not simple, his first urge is to praise; however, when home is a trailer on wheels in a state that continues to fall down farther into water, Gulf is a book of poems unable to escape the elegiac.
About the Author
Published by Texas Review Press