Skip to content
April 4, 2021 / barton smock

etc, skin to skin



Trainwreck Press and John C. Goodman held space that I might do some small above ground work with my new chapbook Skin To Skin In An Unmarked Life.

Would mean the world to me were you to purchase it and subsequently open it long enough to give it some closure.

title is 6.00, and can be purchased HERE

Let me know what you think or what you unthought.

/////

praise for previous work:

The work of Barton Smock, a prolific mid-western poet, modifies the meaning of Christian Wiman’s idea in that it seeks unceasingly for the spaces between those ‘annihilative silence[s]’ that would pursue us, and for the watchful reader opens some door into human experience in a way that is at once intensely personal and detached. Through the manipulation of both common and cerebral language Smock’s poems maintain a dance between the familiar and the unspeakable. They act as a shout to the silences that curl up in experience- offering some view from the inside of that experience, but never in an expected way.

…The themes of family, abuse, poverty, and alienation figure heavily in the book, but to call this confessional poetry seems a bit out of keeping with what is traditionally considered confessional. He speaks of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers while also utilizing the first person, but the reader can never be exactly sure who these characters are. They are changeable, and often engaging in nearly surreal activity that might confuse more than enlighten. The key seems to be finding some language to quantify suffering, or some way of qualifying experience out of context – which at moments brings it ever more sharply into sight…

…Smock has found a way to speak for those who don’t perhaps know that they have something important to say; to share. The marginalized child, the grieving mother, the ailing child or sibling- they will all find a voice here, and though it might not be the way they would voice the affliction that rests within them, they are sure to recognize their faces. Whether this is a burden or a blessing remains a judgment to be formed by the individual reader, but I find the poetry…to be full of the intensity of experience in a way that I can’t help but identify and empathize. Something preserved so as not to be forgotten, and perhaps repeated.

~Emma Hall

*

Speaking of being captivated, when I was in Cleveland’s most exciting new independent bookstore, Guide to Kulchur, I picked up on a whim a few small volumes that appeared to have been published by the author using Lulu. I was so entranced by the seemingly simple but endlessly complex, prickly lyrics that I wrote to the author, Barton Smock, through his blog, kingsoftrain.wordpress.com. He’s been sending me books now and then and his latest, Eating the Animal Back to Life, is just knocking me out. These poems are desperate, tender, wry, alarmed, god-obsessed, and musically driven. Smock is not published by others, he does it all himself…

All the advanced degrees and publishing credentials in the world can’t get you the unspeakable duende that Smock somehow taps into, poem after poem.


~Kazim Ali, from

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2015/11/reading-list-november-2015

*

With sparse language, Barton Smock creates semi-prose poems that contain concentrated riddles, such as in the line “follow the spider’s trail of abandoned birthmarks” or “one of us is dreaming I entered your body.” There are clues across poems, of a broken family, of disbelief in religion and reality, and of the pain stemming from all of that and more. The question of the nature of pain itself is put forth, and its origin: “before it began to go everywhere without him, was pain god?” An evocation of both the trinity (namely, god as his own son) and a child’s jarring transition into independence, which can be destructive to the self and others, for who is so easily prepared for the world? The poems are without titles, except for the title of the chapbook as a whole: infant*cinema. “inside my father I can’t hear one tv over another. […] the people watching the fight want to be seen looking at it.” As soon as we begin to concretely process our surroundings as infants, we must absorb or cancel out competing stimuli, but even so we need to learn what is what. By then, we may have seen too much, the violence of disappointment, loneliness, and, more often than one would like to admit, mental and physical abuse. But is this what makes humans human?

~George Salis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: