The Glory

The Glory


Thomas R. Smith

ISBN: 9781937693749

Pages: 112

Publication Date: 2015

Typeface: Agmena

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This substantial, wide-ranging book is an inspiration and a glory. The boy who carried the news to the sick, the housebound and the lonely was the messenger Mercury, his wings a single-speed Schwinn bike. In his maturity Smith brings that life-saving news to us that can only be found in poetry. The intervening years have done their work well in him: “I am better for living,” he writes, having discovered the reverence youth had kept hidden from himself in his heart. Over and over in these poems we discover with Smith one version and then another of that reverence. We are made aware in them, too, of those years of development that were the chrysalis “in which he surrenders / to the mysterious fluidity by which / creatures weary of creeping form their wings.” In this collection Smith has fully taken wing.
— Joe Paddock, author of Circle of  Stones
Thomas R. Smith’s new collection, The Glory, serves many glories—those of the natural world, of the American democratic dream, and of various individuals who do us all credit.  Yet, while remaining celebratory, Smith always looks unblinkingly at human history, “the thuggishness of ourselves,” reminding us how we are “gravely / and fairly judged” by the wild creatures who encounter us warily.  While ranging from the micro—an “insect hum”—to the macro—“the spill of the Milky Way”—and in between invoking such icons as Woody Guthrie, Rachel Carson, and Nelson Mandela, Smith always exemplifies Simone Weil’s claim that paying attention is the highest form of prayer—his steady and reverent attentiveness to the world in which he finds himself is the armature of this book.  And attention includes engagement: the Sixties play a role here as background for poems of contemporary civic activism that confirm the personal as political and vice-versa.  When Smith compares the sun’s rising to the birth of a child and wonders “what gift” to bring him, the reader knows the gift has already been delivered, Smith’s poetry itself.  Like the “music-house” for shelter one poem speaks of, Smith offers us for shelter his poetry-house, solidly built, roomy, and full of treasures.
— Philip Dacey, author of Church of the Adagio.
These poems are the salt of the earth — they come from pure, simple roots, natural-born and straight-shooting.  Thomas R. Smith is a grown-up, in-your-face, deeply tender poet who is not afraid to sing of his reverence and love for family, friends, and country—not afraid to express his kinship with animals, insects and plants — and not afraid to write about political, cultural and environmental figures, naming both heroes and villains, enemies and compatriots.  Smith moves from early memories of life in a small Midwestern town through decades of seeking, losing, and finding purpose and meaning in his life. He accepts and also resists defeat, the sad song that underlies many of the dreams he cherished as a younger man.  He ultimately succeeds in his efforts to “embrace every sunset given us” as he faces both the tragic truth and glory of existence.
— Freya Manfred, author of Speak, Mother

Thomas R. Smith is an internationally published poet, essayist, editor, and teacher. His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Garrison Keillor has featured his poetry on his national public radio show Writer’s Almanac and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has selected his poems for his syndicated column, American Life in Poetry.

He is author of six previous books of poems, Keeping the Star(New Rivers Press, 1988), Horse of Earth (Holy Cow! Press, 1994), The Dark Indigo Current (Holy Cow! Press, 2000), Winter Hours (Red Dragonfly Press, 2005), Waking Before Dawn (Red Dragonfly Press, 2007), and The Foot of the Rainbow (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010).

He has also edited several books, most recently Airmail:  The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer (Graywolf Press, 2013).  He teaches poetry at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and regularly posts poems and essays on his web site at