By Rod Smith
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
ISBN# 9781940696089 (7x9.5 112pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781940696072 (limited edition hardcover)
Well-known for his radical poetics and politics, Rod Smith’s Touché turns yet another Avant-Garde corner. Ranging from conceptual and flarf to high lyric and even confessional works the poems in Touché toss the reader into the seemingly infinite possibilities Smith’s style(s) inhabit. Touché's repartee is both inventive and humorous, intense and open.
His jazzy absurdities talk back to the Flarf poets and the earlier L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E writers, but their freewheeling aims bring them at least as close to earlier kinds of aural experiment.
In Touché, Rod Smith weaves the internet generation together with Robert Creeley and William Carlos Williams. The old Yeat’s nugget, “Poetry makes nothing happen” is contorted and refracted through all of Smith’s lines to discuss how the great nothing is happening all around us.
Benjamin Champagne, NewPages
Rod Smith’s “protagonist” is rebellious at times and always inventive. His work digs into self-diminishing pity, and just around the corner reveals the full canvas of an owned world. There is anger. There is facetiousness, subtle innuendo and a bit of hip-hop. It is expressive and utterly Romantic while being formally contemporary.
Brandon Lafving, Cleaver Magazine
Poems defy definitions of defiance. They aren’t anything while they’re everything, et cetera. All too often, poets try to control paradox. They try to dress up words in order to present a polished product. They try to correctly play what’s unplayable for a carefully selected audience. Rod Smith has no time for that. He’s too busy doing something altogether different.
John Most, The Volta
The poems in Touché are incredibly playful, straightforward, confusing, highly deliberate and varied, from the more formal lyric to poems that engage directly with sound, collision and accident, to language and flarf works, and poems that twist linguistic expectation, meaning and narrative.
Rod Smith edits the journal Aerial, publishes Edge Books, and manages Bridge Street Books in Washington, DC. He has taught at the The Iowa Writers' Workshop, The Maryland Institute College of Art, The Corcoran College of Art + Design, and George Mason University. Smith co-edited The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley (University of California Press, 2014).
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