Counting Descent

Clint Smith. Write Bloody, $15 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-1-938912-65-8
Writer and educator Smith gives voice to the voiceless in his debut collection, a lyrical coming-of-age narrative that confronts insidious and absurd perceptions of young black men, and the absurdities of the racism from which they arise. He deftly utilizes personification, as in the devastating poem “What the Fire Hydrant Said To the Black Boy”: “they say we both come with warnings/ for others not to stand too close,” Smith writes, “but when they open us/ everyone stands around to watch:// spilling until there’s nothing left inside.” He also addresses the struggle over means of activism and protest, putting James Baldwin in conversation with the protest novel, and giving art the chance to respond. Some of the collection’s imagery is overly familiar, as when he describes a young man as having “an indomitable sort of swag” or writes of “boys who were dawdling/ amalgamations of awkward and bravado.” Still, the collection does not want for emotional resonance. Smith’s poems are prescient and necessary, reminding readers of what’s truly at stake when power treats a young person “like he wasn’t somebody’s child.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2017
Release date: 08/01/2016
Open Ebook - 978-1-938912-66-5
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