While You Were Approaching the Spectacle but Before You Were Transformed by It

Lytton Smith. Nightboat (SPD, dist.), $15.95 ISBN )978-1-937658-11-3
In his second collection, Smith (The All-Purpose Magical Tent) lingers in a censored place where violence can’t be articulated and where language breaks down as it’s translated from eye to memory to Internet. In his poem “The News from Poetry” Smith’s language is fragmented as though reporting over through a fuzzy, long-distance phone line. Visually, the poem resembles Morse code attempting, unsuccessfully, to communicate a surrounding violence. As information moves in the world, parts are lost, translations are warped, and memories shift. Although we see “a satellite image with/ a zoom and travel function. Earth as dispersed as the dirt our treads/ trail to the next destination,” the scene isn’t complete, alluding to “something to the left or right/ of the edges of this picture.”. Smith observes, “there are revolutions per minute, there/ is the information super-highway,” but they may not convene. A country does not vanish if you cannot access it online, though “the Internet can be switched off/ and those outside describe the land/ as gone dark.” At times, Smith writes as though he’s composing a telegram, or a journalist taking flurried notes to remember the event later, where every word is crucial, and insufficient: “It tragic. It urgent.” (May)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next