A companion volume to his previous collection Trespasser and the second book of the trilogy “Dreaming in Irish,“ Messenger continues R.T. Smith’s exploration of the threshold between story and song. Employing a disciplined and echoing free verse, Smith touches the sources of emotion without losing his poems’ extraordinary composure, offering coherence and order in service of the ecstatic note.
Binding the lyric to narrative, these poems move almost imperceptibly from delicate descriptions of the poet’s native southern landscape to memories of a tender boyhood amid Scots-Irish relatives to the customs and politics of contemporary Ireland. They invoke Audubon, Bartram, Dickey, Poe, and Joyce to pursue the mythic patterns behind everyday circumstances and the joyful possibilities in work, music, and family life.
Smith weaves the language of Catholic faith with both American and Irish rural surroundings, providing the fuel for quiet allegories. He listens and observes, and seeks to bridge the chasm between his world and his words, exercising what he calls
a desire old as cave painting,
the wish to entice some wild thing
and make beauty local,
to bring something graceful
close to the language of home.
R. T. Smith 's fiction has been published in Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South, Best American Mystery Stories, and two Pushcart Prize anthologies. He is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry and has received the Library of Virginia Poetry Award. Raised in Georgia and North Carolina, he now lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He is the editor of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review.