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Devotions (Phoenix Poets) Paperback – April 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Poets
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1st edition (April 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226764354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226764351
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bruce Smith's new poems move fast and travel far. . . . Most books of new poems are either too long or leave readers wanting more. Devotions does neither; it is ample as well as ambitious, agile and unpredictable as well as viscerally affecting. For all that its born-to-run characters yearn for escape, it's a book to stay inside; it's exhausting to read, and yet it's a book to get lost in, one you won't exhaust any time soon."
(Stephen�Burt New York�Times�Book�Review)

"Smith's devotions are authoritative and capacious. Neither querulous nor slavish, they give pleasure, which is what we ask of them."
(Library Journal)

"In poems alternately sharp, slippery, and tender, Smith finds a way to take in almost everything—'Shooter Protocol,' Charlie Parker, high school shop class—moving seamlessly between critique and embrace. Smith's been closely watched for several books now, and this may be his best collection yet."
(Publishers Weekly)

"Devotions reads like a series of protean Ars Poeticas. The poems glow with ghost rhymes, hypnotic catalogues, and lyric enchantments that constitute 'a blues about the rules for distance and difficult love.' Bruce Smith is a poet I always read with awe and hunger. This amazing new book overwhelms me in the best possible ways."
(Terrance Hayes, author of Lighthead , winner of the National Book Award)

About the Author

Bruce Smith is professor of English and creative writing at Syracuse University and the author of four books of poems. His book The Other Lover, also published by the University of Chicago Press, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roy Kesey on December 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How I loved this book. Constant slants: as in thematic shift, as in diagonal rhyme, as in the receiver coming short across the middle, his ribs about to be broken, and he knows this, stretches up for the ball anyway. Each movement working deeper and deeper, as if a miner, as if a sliver. Does its most excellent work in/on the mess that is contemporary America in all its bigness and smallness. I have a weakness for that particular ground, and don't know anyone working it to better effect.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Private Citizen on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an admirer of Bruce smith's poems. What creative energy he has and what Hopkinsesque
passion, what erotic undercharge, etc... but he drowns his poems in excess figurative language,
saturates them in baroque vocabulary, and generally turns poems from poems into
vogue-ish Herculean runway model performances. It's like being served a
nice drink by a bartender who keeps pouring and pouring,
as it foams up and overflows and soaks your whole arm-- a poem
whose writer is having more fun and pleasure than you are.
Even the project, here, devotions-- gets tiresome with reiteration.
Bruce Smith's best collection still is probably mercy seat. Amen.
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By Curt Lauber on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just love the mixing of echoes from so many major poets with echoes from last year's Evening News and this morning's trip to Starbucks. Mixing Dickinson,Whitman and Odierno in such a natural, fluid pleasing way. Getting jerked between these different worlds creates an appreciation that can fairly be called "Devotion."
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DabblerArts on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Everything I said about Terrance Hayes' Lighthead applies to this volume of indignant and well-meaning but unrewarding poetry. I also find the patina of religiosity quite annoying. These poems aren't prayers or acts of worship except in the most negative sense, and to call the book "Devotions" and to prefix each title with the word "devotion" (as though this were a kind of poetic form, as Stephen Burt pointed out in the NY Times) is dishonest, in my opinion - it amounts to a marketing ploy. These are poems of sometimes evocative description, that rehearse all the things that are wrong with our lives, without saying anything vital about it. They give the impression of someone (unsuccessfully) trying to turn personal rants into poetry that says something, anything. The effect, on me, is very depressing. The poetry turns into itself (becoming poetry about the writing of poetry), or they end in poetically vague statements that don't really say anything to justify all the hurt and drama. An exhausting and unrewarding read, as I've said.

One final note: I can hear some readers say, "Then why bother reviewing it?" - which is a sentiment that I disagree with very much. In a sense, we don't get to choose what to read, just as we do not get to choose what happens in the world, and it's every reader's responsibility, or at least their right, if they took what they read at all seriously, to say if something is worthy or not worthy. The statement "if you don't like it, then find something else" is like the statement "if you don't like America, then move somewhere else" - it denies one the opportunity to dream of a better world. I will say it again, it's much easier to write a book of poetry (the marketable unit) than to write a poem - what we have here is a book of poetry, but no poems.
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