What Others Have Written Of Jared Smith's Work
"Jared Smith is Poet All-Reality, mountains, rivers, cities, history, his own personal life, nothing is left out of his work. It's like reading travel bulletins, history, The Confessions of St. Augustine, you name it...No other poet on the scene today has such a vibrant, prophetic sense of magnificently capturing the overview of All-Time, All-Place and turning it into personal visions."
"Rhapsodic is a word applicable to very few poets today. Jared Smith is one—triumphantly so in Grassroots. And what powerful roots these poems are. Let me speak out clear and bold: in this superb collection of lyric poems. Smith is unafraid of being bardic. He sings, he rants; he teaches, he preaches; he speaks of soul and heart and spirit and mind in language that is both beautifully lyric and aptly didactic; he waxes political and ecstatic, transcendental, abstract, abstruse. He is, in short, rhapsodic, driven like Lorca to a white-hot exhortation of the truly just and an acidic condemnation of the unjust, large and small. The title poem alone is proof enough. We have Whitman's barbaric yawp, and now we have Jared Smith's contemporary rhapsodic yawp sounding like Thor's hammer over the boardrooms and the war rooms and the stock exchanges and the spires and domes of the world. Poetry might not make anything happen, but this poet knows what happens without it. Read him and be grateful."
"With Grassroots, Jared Smith continues to explore human longing, sorrow, and resilience. He is intimately aware of the traditions that precede him—transcendentalism, imagism, confessionalism, and Beatnik narrative, to name a few—but he always emerges with his own distinct and resonant voice, his images primal and timeless, his sense of musicality impeccable. His content is singular, specific, concrete, but it always functions sublimely, pointing towards the grander cycles of Eros and Thanatos. Here is a poet deep with thought and rich with emotion. Grassroots is a compelling, haunting, and unforgettable collection, one that I'll be revisiting and referencing for years to come."
"In Grassroots, the central long poem in Jared Smith's new collection, he sets forth what serves as more than an ars poetica for the volume; he establishes a new clarion call for poets to assume again their responsibility as Shelley's 'unacknowledged legislators of the world': How do you define poetry if not by the human condition or communication / in ways that redefine our understanding of life with little words and / stronger actions that can set men free or lock their lives away…?" In poems built of words both little and large which continue to reflect his root influences of Whitman and Neruda, with a mite of Ginsberg and the Beats thrown in, Smith casts a wide net that seines in diverse images from nature and domestic life that revitalize our sense of the wildness of our existence on this planet. I can think of no other American poet who can credibly carry us, in the span of a single line break, from buckets of cornflakes to trawlers filled with fish—and make that connection seem inevitable."
"He's often been compared to Whitman, but here, where he pays his respects at our collective graves, he puts me more in mind of Blake--not the young one of the Songs, but the darker Blake of the visionary prophecies. I would call this a sad book, but that would not account for how joyous it feels to be reminded that every inch of earth we walk is a sacred bone-heap, and this is now true of our highways and dams and bridges. His elegy grows stronger, more urgent...I'd call him a prophet of doom if it were not for the love that simply aches in every line."
--Diana Hume George
"I like your I-witness of the Song in our blood...it's a pleasure."
"...utterly original and as solid an any poetry that's being written today. It has a firm grasp of form, it has its own unique music in line after line of low-key symbolist imagery, and it is also austerely disrespectful of all the right things. I like this poetry a lot."
"There is a kind of certainty that seems to characterize Jared Smith's best work, an understanding about place and the flow of spirit that makes you think of Thoreau along with a commitment as fierce as that of Pablo Neruda."
"Again and again, Jared Smith takes us into a world that we feel is strange and impossible, only to make us see, suddenly, that this IS our life, our condition, and until now we have been shying away from reality. Years ago, on my author-interview show on NPR, I hailed Jared as 'the most important new voice in American poetry since Walt Whitman.'"
--Walter James Miller
"He is a master of interplay between sensuous detail and the universal, illuminating the facets of our electric civilization and evoking the earth from which it rose. Esthetically, discerning readers will see his spiritual kinship to C.K. Williams and compare his work favorably."
"There is a lovely muscularity pervading Jared Smith's work that's reminiscent of the more obvious long-lined poets' efforts, Whitman's and C.K. William's, for example. But Smith's poetry is unique in that he seems unlike these other two writers, not to think in terms of an "overflowing line" but to peer, consistently, beyond it. What this means is that while Whitman's long lines are incantatory and Williams' are loquacious in a relaxed, double-hexameter sort of way, Smith's work, much like an Action Painter's, serves the ambition of the gesture and thus, of necessity, stretches beyond the canvas."
"For Smith, there is a kind of pathos in human attempts to replicate the unfathomable beauty of a mountain or a star-filled sky, a pathos, which is worthy of regret, even mocking, but never rage, scorn, or absolute despair. Though his tone could not be called gentle, it is sympathetic to the human condition and the futility, frustration, sorrow, and bewilderment that accompany it. This sympathy elevates his poetry to the levels of the masters who have influenced him"
"Jared Smith's work deals with the Here and Now, yes, but is so involved with All-Time/All-Culture that, if you don't keep totally focused, at times you're liable to step over the connections. Smith is a kind of Cro-Magnon-Neanderthal-Indus Valley-Mesopotamian-Tiawanaku Combo-Man watching the late news, buzzarding over the contemporary world and seeing its miserable negativity…but ultimately always referring back to the basic sanity of the universe around us. Sane Nature versus Idiot Man. There is a tremendous Keatsian-Whitmanesque visionary sweep here, moving over the earth's surface, always concentrating on light, the Here and Now, but always in cosmic context. Smith's work, carefully read and meditated on, is a course in cosmic-personal sanity."
"Jared Smith's voice and hypnotic technique create a vivid world in which images and ideas appear as easily as in a dream. His poems have a sense of urgency and purpose. We face the modern world, from nanotechnology to the darkness between trees, with an intelligent, observant and visionary guide. He seems to name every nameable thing with an unnamable energy that helps define who we are in our world. This is what poetry is about! His poems are imaginative, passionate, personal and expansive."
"Jared Smith is an excellent poet; who has learned to live and believe with conviction that the entire world belongs in and of poetry, not just pieces and bits like nature poetry, dramatic stories or the demands of friendship and love."