"An elegant music undergirds the poems in R. T. Smiths haunting new collection, Outlaw Style. These are poems that seek and find the blood harmony in the mongrel that is history. They plumb the depths of those kindred motivators in the pursuit of beautymadness and passion, mystery and geniusto grapple with the legacies of history, both public and private. If it is true, as Smith reminds us quoting Plato, that A mans mask is apt to become his face, that danger, here, is a risk worth Smiths undertaking. In this brave book, he is a poet enthralled to history and music, taking on the competing narratives of our American past, those many versions that, when acknowledged, get us closest to truth. I will save myself if I can he writes in Strange Fruit, 1939, a poem whose words are uttered as if to redeem us all
Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
"Outlaw Style is the finest, most powerful book of R. T. Smiths mighty career. It bristles with candor and violence and makes the kind of music that only comes from a rare mix of craft and abandon. This book reminds me why southern poetry mattersit is a shining chunk of the American soul. If you want a masterpiece, here is one.
Steve Scafidi, author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer
Rod Smiths new book makes even the grimmest, quasi-Manichean spiritslike his fellow Georgian, Flannery OConnorwant to get happy and testify to the workings of the Holy Spirit; and, simultaneously, to bargain with the Devil for the ability to grab a guitars neck and confess the enduring thirst for melody. Smith delves deeply into the traditions of Southern music, as well as the story of John Wilkes Booth and outsider artists. He arrives at a place beyond wisdom, his high notes resounding with humility, confidence, and sprezzatura. O play that thing! is probably a more fitting accolade than bravo, and Outlaw Style makes us crave an encore. Then another
Diann Blakely, author of Farewell, My Lovelies