In a time when consumerism and media hype keep us effectively asleep to the impact of our ways and wars on the rest of the world, how can we awaken? In Waking before Dawn, Thomas R. Smith confronts the challenge and responsibility of moral awareness in some of the best and most varied poems he has written. These poems bridge the personal and the political, from love poems and elegies to a suite of poems powerfully indicting the bankrupt Iraq war. On the home front, Smith witnesses the hope and suffering of ordinary lives diminished by a wounded democracy, while maintaining faith, with Walt Whitman, that "South, North, East, West, inland and seaboard, we will surely awake."
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Thomas R. Smith was born in 1948 and grew up in Cornell, Wisconsin, a small paper mill town on the Chippewa River. For the past ten years he has lived in River Falls, Wisconsin, with his wife, Krista Spieler. A respected poet, essayist, and editor, his work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. His poems were included in Editor's Choice II (The Spirit That Moves Us Press), a selection of the best of the American small press, and in The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner). Garrison Keillor has featured his poetry on his national public radio show Writer's Almanac. He is author of four 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), and Winter Hours (Red Dragonfly Press, 2005). He teaches poetry at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.From Booklist:
At first, Smith comes off a tad too sweet, as such titles as "Trust," "Your Inner Face," "Day of Rest," and "A Wedding Poem" suggest. But he's no latter-day Edgar Guest. His poems look formally stanzaic but rhyme only by happenstance and observe no metrical pattern, though any one poem's lines are usually all three, four, or five beats long. Call them free verse trying to be as easy on the eye as Smith's unpretentious, ordinary speech is on the ear (he's the peer of his plain-speaking acknowledged master, Robert Bly, for sure). While he leads with his sunniest stuff, succeeding sections of elegies and laments for the state of politics and society darken the mood. In the concluding section, optimism is achieved again, though out of the assurance that winter, the storm, grief, anger, lies, and time all pass. So wake up and dream of "the world trying to be born." Smith is a serious optimist, who ultimately recalls Julian of Norwich: "And all manner of things shall be well." Ray Olson
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Book Description Red Dragonfly Press, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111890193674