Tom Hibbard reviews
The Good House, by Rod Smith
Spectacular Books, New York 2001, 36 pp, saddle-stitched. Hand-printed covers by
David Larsen, $6. Available from Katherine Lederer at 309 Kingsclear Court, Las Vegas, NV 89145, USA
Let’s say generations overlap. Let’s say Kerouac of the Beat Generation died several years before Pound of the much earlier Lost Generation. The best generation names have been bestowed by critics pronouncing condemnation: ‘Impressionists,’ ‘Fauves’ (beasts), ‘lost’ generation. Somewhat confusing and concurrent were the ‘Me,’ the ‘Now’ and the ‘Love’ generations. I don’t know of any attempt to give a name to current writers. This could be some sort of negligence. Perhaps something appropriate might come from science — the Fusion Generation or the Black Hole Generation.
opulence isn’t allowed, so to
becomes blatant in its strength
The natural laws & the longing
Many things happen in life. These need to be recorded, remembered. Many troubles need to be taken care of, understood, studied, endured. This is not a new house, an avoidance but a good house, a lived-in house. ‘The good was an upkeep/ It was a perilous upkeep’ This is a house simultaneously built by and for life.
when we lock the door
This independence of content affects the writing style. It makes it more wary, terse, subtle, uncertain, less genial and rhetorical. The writing has to really search for what it is saying, for accuracy and truth. As Smith shows us, it can cause it to suffer lapses, of annoyance, of self-justification, as when in the middle of longer sections he starts to use rhyme.
Go inside, good house
Lack of name, lack of context make the poet look for bigger verbal payoffs, unattracted to false modesty. In my view, these make the poet see and think more clearly and more responsibly, free from moral aberrations. Small press is more viable than academic or commercial press in terms of poetry, in terms of radical originality, in terms of being able to say what it wants to say. This is the whole problem with art, that its effects can hardly be felt, like the little blips recorded by radio telescopes that represent immeasurable interstellar explosions. The only respectability is that, in terms of restoring the integrity of society, nothing else is as important. Small press is the source of society’s health. Saying this itself is difficult; it seems preposterous.
the egrets have come back
Jacket 18 — August 2002
This material is copyright © Tom Hibbard
and Jacket magazine 2002