Read Devotions by Bruce Smith Online


In the hands of Bruce Smith, devotions are momentary stops to listen to the motor of history. They are meditations and provocations. They are messages received from the chatter of the street and from transmissions as distant as Memphis and al-Mansur. Bulletins and interruptions come from brutal elsewheres and from the interior where music puts electrodes on the body to takIn the hands of Bruce Smith, devotions are momentary stops to listen to the motor of history. They are meditations and provocations. They are messages received from the chatter of the street and from transmissions as distant as Memphis and al-Mansur. Bulletins and interruptions come from brutal elsewheres and from the interior where music puts electrodes on the body to take an EKG. These poems visit high schools, laundromats, motels, films, and dreams in order to measure the American hunger and thirst. They are interested in the things we profess to hold most dear as well as what’s unspoken and unbidden. While we’re driving, while riding a bus, while receiving a call, while passing through an X-ray machine, the personal is intersected—sometimes violently, sometimes tenderly—with the hum and buzz of the culture. The culture, whether New York or Tuscaloosa, Seattle or Philadelphia, past or present, carries the burden of race and “someone’s idea of beauty.” The poems fluctuate between the two poles of “lullaby and homicide” before taking a vow to remain on earth, to look right and left, to wait and to witness....

Title : Devotions
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780226764351
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 104 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Devotions Reviews

  • Basslynn9
    2019-01-26 20:34

    Each poem, each devotion, is a meditation on existence, a particularly American existence, though some of the poems are set in other counties. Davis reveals the suffering, inequality and brutality beneath the optimism of the culture.I read a review of this book in a respected magazine or newspaper (New York Times?). The reviewer said that Davis and Walt Whitman are polar opposites in their vision of America. I disagree. Whitman's America is like falling in love. Davis's vision is like when someone you love breaks your heart.

  • Tory Adkisson
    2019-02-09 01:31

    This is a damn terrific book. I can't extoll its virtues more. The poems serve as meditations, even prayers, to things the poet loves, and yet the poet himself is never beyond recrimination for his desires. Everything from Jazz music to NYC to the gods are explored here, and the formal similarity of the poems--most of them are hefty single stanza henges--embeds a certain consistency in the brain that the content deviates from in a few key places. These are poems of longing, of wisdom, of duende. I recommend taking a look at it.

  • Al
    2019-02-18 23:55

    Strong language and arresting images are only part of what makes this one of the best books I've read in recent years. The other is that intangible that I go to poetry for every day but rarely find. This book has stayed close at hand since I bought it.

  • Roy Kesey
    2019-01-31 01:57

    Really overwhelmingly good. Great long muscley lines. Constant shifts deeper and ever deeper. Brilliant line breaks. This is one of our great poets working over contemporary America's most complicated bits using ancient implacable scaffolding.

  • Aaron
    2019-02-01 20:00

    Well beyond form (though there, too) Smith's devotions are secular hymns that I imagine would come out of the contemplation of the America we know in the 21st century versus the America Whitman envisioned in his 1855 Preface.

  • Cone
    2019-02-13 20:53

    Some of my favorite poems of the last decade...these are truly original, dense with multiple meanings, by turns sad, funny, nostalgic, angry...or even reflecting the very awe of being aware, in the case of some "baby poems."

  • Deb
    2019-01-24 01:58

    Can't remember who recommend this book to me, but thank you. I have read the first two poems and am smitten.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-02-10 23:31

    Each devotion is a tribute to something - a feeling, a dish, a location. These were great fun to read. I particularly enjoyed Devotion: Horlust and Devotion: Soup.

  • Fungus Gnat
    2019-01-31 01:38

    (My usual disclaimer re contemporary poetry: I often miss the point.) Bruce Smith’s book, published four years ago, comprises 58 poems, most roughly a page long, and none departing that by much. Most are composed of page-wide, unrhymed, arrhythmic lines, with no stanza breaks. Each has a title of the format “Devotion: X,” where X can be anything from “Coin-Op” (the first) to “Fly” (the last)--or just “X.” The titles vary in their relation to the poem itself. “Devotion: Coin-Op” seems really to be about a laundry. “Fly” is about . . . well, and that’s what makes this book somewhat problematic for me. I will admit to being conflicted here. I find it a little difficult to try to put into words anything intelligible about what someone has used some medium other than nonfiction to convey. That goes double for poetry. Poetry, even good poetry, or, perhaps, especially good poetry, requires work on my part. I like that, but I also like that work to have some payoff by way of discovery—and some of these do, including such “likes” as “Red Roof Inn,” “Josephine P,” “Ode,” “Infant Joy,” and “Car Wreck.” However, for quite a few of Smith’s poems, the import is hermetically sealed within. The others are hardly transparent throughout. Back to my confliction: Nor would I want them to be. Were a poem as clear as an essay (or as an essay should be), there would be no need for poetry. And there are pleasures to be gained even from the more inscrutable of Smith’s poems. For instance, I don’t know what I’m to make of something like “The Fly,” which lurches from the Lost Boys (as in Peter Pan?) to the key of F to translating Coptic texts, but I do like this:“Fly buzzes in the blown-open pages of the tiny novellas everyone carriesscattered like dreams in which we were all the characters.”And there are many more rewards here throughout. From “The Garment District,” one of my favorites:“. . . All night she had hauledme and the boy, and the smoky, feckless men I was acrossthe fens and stretches of mesquite through the tunnelsand delivered me to my misery and the laborious knots of the sheets I wound myself in . . . .”So that’s the idea. Interesting at the level of a line or several, often elusive in intent at the level of the poem. Of the few living poets I’ve read—Ashbery, Bidart, Hass, Voigt—I find myself leaning to any of those in preference to Smith. But maybe I’ll be ready for him some day. (Better happen fast, though; we’re both getting old!)(N.B.: Try to read this book quickly; mine fell apart.)gnat

  • James Murphy
    2019-01-22 23:38

    Devotions are meditations. They are considerations of the ordinary in our lives. In that way they remind me of Pablo Neruda's Elemental Odes. They also remind me of the poems of Barbara Hamby. Like her work, a verbal energy sputters across the page like a hurrying fuse creating verbal assaults whose rhythms lift the commonplace like a prayer. Each poem is a solid block of language, squat and heavy. Each poem is a Babel. The poems in Devotions are more serious than Neruda's Odes. Their form and relentless verbal pressure carry the weight of a hammer so that while delivering as much truth as Hamby's they also give us the beauty of their sincerity.I like to use the word muscular to describe writing with this kind of power. This is muscular poetry. These long lines support tomes of thought. On the page they make substantial, glorious tanks of language into which we can sink joyfully.

  • Patti K
    2019-02-11 00:35

    This new collection of poems are mostly all fast talking incantations.I liked most of them, but wanted a bit more modulation of tone by theend of the book. A fascinating array of topics for these "devotional"poems. Including "Devotion: Fort Drum", Coin-Op, Contraband, Al Green,Dizzy Gillespie.

  • Carrie Lorig
    2019-01-26 02:40