The Wick of Memory
New and Selected Poems, 1970–2000
280 Pages / 5.50 x 9.00 x 0.50 in / None
- Paperback /
- 9780807125496 /
- Published: April 2000
In The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems 1970–2000, Dave Smith’s poetry reveals its roots in the elegiac tradition that has marked a southern literature so prominent in the twentieth century. Yet equally visible, now, is the ancestral shadow of the Anglo-Saxon poetry of religious questing and the inner voyaging of dreams. With runic parables of nature and its implacable force, Smith’s narrative style is a gritty, ever realistic presentation of human di-lemmas in a world both familiar to us all and eerily strange. Here the actions of character contest the principles of grace, courage, manliness, and fate for what matters.
Sailing Atlantic waters, exploring domestic relationships, or plumbing memory for a personal and cultural identity, Smith dramatizes a vision of obligations we honor and, often enough, also fail, moments in which we may touch our origins and what philosopher William James called “felt facts.” These are the wellsprings of beauty and happiness and freedom, ambitions of all poetry. The twenty-one new poems in The Wick of Memory show Dave Smith turning to work that is surprisingly autumnal. Yet entering the new millennium, Smith is a poet restless as ever in formal practices. If this book chronicles a soul’s journey, it also tears life roughly against its inevitable limits.
Whether he writes of the music of the Platters, pulling a pig’s tail, children racing wheelchairs, an itinerant black saxophonist hassled by the police, broken romance, or the lure of boats and water, Smith shows behind everything the reality of love. It lasts. It is what glues together the pieces of our lives that seem to ﬂoat so terribly and easily away. The Wick of Memory, Dave Smith’s record of that vision, is a poetry that registers in every ebb and flow the power of continuous passion.