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this was always the abridged version of how to believe in nothing when addicted to meaning.

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PDFs of some works are available at gumroad:

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friends, enemies, family:

in the doing of a thing there is often a lull and in that lull a curvature of worry that perhaps something has too quickly taken shape and so one might be led to explore creating, not to make, but to evoke and I will attempt, here, to do that and hope it is a space that takes up only its own.


most recent work:


eating the animal back to life
315 pages
published July 2015

of which Kazim Ali says:

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, 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.


earth is part earth and there’s a hole in the sound I made you from
98 pages
published December 2015


MOON tattoo
114 pages
published March 2016

…The result of this type of work is that a poem might seem fractured, when it is not. Smock works with both image and symbol in order to create poems that are iconoclastic, alpha and omega…

as reviewed by Krystal Sierra:


infant*cinema, Dink Press, April 2016
7.00 (first non self-published work)

of which, the some that said, say:

Barton Smock’s newest book is filled with enigmatic poetry honed to the barest minimum of language, without a scintilla of excess. In one poem and elsewhere, Smock states that he “does not want to be seen as a person,” and the scant information he has shared in various publications and the rare interview certainly reveals little but that he is a father, husband, likes movies, and writes daily. Yet in infant * cinema, poems that first appear as fragmentary and surreal dreams, prayers, visions, or confessions still evoke a completeness that lacks nothing, wants nothing. Smock reveals a world filled with grief, death, suicides, disabling conditions, and a family’s complex relationships across generations. While the poems mention “lonesome objects,” “melancholy,” “numbness,” and “collected sorrows,” Smock’s masterfully minimalist poetry leaves the reader intoxicated by a rush of original details and bleakly exquisite imagery.
~Donna Snyder, author of Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press) and I Am South (Virgogray Press)

Infant Cinema can only come from the mind of one writer, Barton Smock. I’ve been following his work for 10 years, and the only thing I’ve come to expect for certain is that I will be transported to a world thick with an atmosphere of vivid imagery, and seemingly juxtaposed and ironic concepts. Infant Cinema is prose that has all those elements, and reads with heightened poetic force.
~Joseph Jengehino, author of Ghost of the Animal (Birds and Bones Press)

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


shuteye in the land of the sacred commoner (& other poems)
114 pages
published June 2016


340 pages
published June 2016

~ this is a combined publication of these four collections: earth is part earth and there’s a hole in the sound I made you from / MOON tattoo / infant*cinema / shuteye in the land of the sacred commoner [& other poems] ~


depictions of reentry
146 pages
published August 2016


hick lore rabbit hole
124 pages
published October 2016


pictures of god don’t sell
378 pages
published December 2016

(newer poems and poems selected from eating the animal back to life, as well as collections depictions of reentry and hick lore rabbit hole in full)


surprise for me a crow
104 pages
published January 2017


name calling
110 pages
published March 2017


paw five
130 pages
published May 2017


the boy who touched all the eggs
258 pages
published June 2017

-this is a combined publication of three previous works (surprise for me a crow / name calling / paw five) as well as some newer poems


116 pages
published August 2017


everything I touch remembers being my hand
172 pages
published November 2017


other praise:

Barton D. Smock’s poetry speaks with a complex and implicated simplicity, it speaks a world somewhat surreal and intellectual, but nevertheless imbued with all the complexity of these strange rages of human emotionalism that strike us at inconvenient or strange times…

~ David McLean

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


thing why and thing why:!Poet-Barton-Smock-on-Trauma-Feminism-Self-Publishing/cxj4/56063dbf0cf2f0ed7a222fa8


private publications:

available via paypal ( or

chapbook, BASILISK, 64 pages $5.00
(Feb 2017)

chapbook, the accepted field, 84 pages $5.00
(May 2017)

chapbook, in this life another is you, 64 pages $3.00
(Oct 2017)

full length, mood piece for baby blur, 128 pages
***make donation of 5.00 or more to isacoustic via paypal


call for submissions:


/ volume first, January 2018:

/ volume second, March 2018:

/ volume third, April 2018:

/ volume fourth, July 2018:


Leave a Comment
  1. Melissa Fry Beasley / Mar 27 2013 5:39 pm

    Thanks for checking out my blog and for the follow, i’m following you now as well. BeWare and Be Warned. lol ~ Mel

  2. anna mosca / Jun 25 2013 10:19 pm

    Thanks for the follow. Be aware please my blog is a bilingual one. So you may get links to some poems in English as well as to some in Italian. When you do not know the language just ignore the message, please. I’m trying to keep the posting balanced between the two languages. Anna

  3. Donna J Snyder / Jun 3 2015 2:39 pm


  4. xu / Dec 24 2015 3:09 pm

    your writing is absolutely beautiful

    • barton smock / Dec 24 2015 3:13 pm

      thanks for taking the time. means the world.

  5. J. K. / May 25 2016 3:33 pm

    Your poetry is one of my favorite things to pop up in my feed. Thank you for the day brighteners, and I wish you fortune in any future endeavors you have!

    • barton smock / May 25 2016 3:35 pm

      thanks for reading!


  1. {pictures of god don’t sell} | kingsoftrain

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