Winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2012 William Carlos Williams Award for Devotions (2011), Bruce Smith is the author of five other poetry titles. His poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry anthology (2003 and 2004) and the 2009 Pushcart Prize anthology and in numerous poetry journals to include The Paris Review, The New Yorker and Kenyon Review, and his critical essays and reviews have appeared in Harvard Review, Boston Review, and Newsday. A “Discovery”/The Nation Award winner, Smith is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and has also been award grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts. He has been co-editor of the Graham House Review and a contributing editor of Born Magazine. Smith currently teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Syracuse University.
Silver and Information
An obituary has more news than this day,
brilliant, acid yellow and silver
off the water at land’s end. The disparate
prismatic things blind you as they fin
their way across the surface of the water.
This light cannot inform you of your dying.
Fish of lustrous nothing, fish of desire,
fish whose push and syllable
can make things happen,
fish whose ecstatic hunger
is no longer news, and fish whose mouth
zeroes the multitudes, the hosts
who wait for their analogies
and something nice to eat, the billions
the waves commemorate in their breaking
down to their knees on the shore,
their cloacal sound. Now
how can I stay singular?
How can even ore part die
when I split and split
like the smallest animal
in the ocean until I’m famous
in my dismemberment, splendid
in my hunger, and anonymous—
so that naming one
is like naming one runnel
the sea, or one drop of blood
the intoxicating passion?
I keep the multitudes in mind
when I hear daily that one
has murdered another. A news
more silver than given,
more light than anything
captured. And I hold them all
in mind—the fulgence, the data,
and the death, or else I lose it,
that package of slippery fish,
that don’t die exactly but smell
in a heaven so low we can hear
the moans and feel the circles
and bite in each cell.
From Silver and Information (The University of Georgia Press, 1985)
- Review by David Biespiel. Critical Mass (blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors). 6 March 2012.
- Review by Stephen Burt. The New York Times. 4 August 2011.
- “The Game” by Bruce Smith. The New Yorker. 7 September 2009.
Seminar with Tracy K. Smith | October 2, 2012
Reading with Tracy K. Smith | October 2, 2012