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some praise

Kazim Ali, on Barton Smock’s {eating the animal back to life}:

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

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others on Barton Smock’s {*infant cinema*}:

https://kingsoftrain.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/6079/

https://kingsoftrain.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/sudden-kindness-infantcinema/

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Krystal Sierra on Barton Smock’s {MOON tattoo}:

http://krystalsierra.blogspot.com/2016/05/between-language-and-narrative.html?m=1#!/2016/05/between-language-and-narrative.html

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Emma Hall on Barton Smock’s {Hallelujah Lip-Synch}:

https://kingsoftrain.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/review-by-emma-hall-of-barton-smocks-self-published-poetry-collection-hallelujah-lip-synch/

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others on Barton Smock’s {Ghost Arson}:

review by Dd. Spungin:

https://kingsoftrain.com/2018/11/28/dd-spungins-review-of-ghost-arson/

review by George Salis:

https://kingsoftrain.com/2018/12/17/review-by-george-salis-of-barton-smocks-ghost-arson/

interview by Crystal Stone for Flyway Journal:

Interview with Barton Smock, Author of “Ghost Arson”

Glen Armstrong, at Cruel Garters:

https://www.facebook.com/Cruel-Garters-162917133824108/

I’ve been reading “Boy Musics,” a prose poem in the book Ghost Arson by Barton Smock. The poem perfectly captures that rarely whispered vulnerability that comes with being a boy (being human.) The poem opens with the speaker and his companion “counting cigarettes on the roof of a closed sex shop in Ohio,” an apt setting to explore what is open, what might be okay to share. The speaker shares that his father is gay; the companion shares “three poems by [his] dead sister, the third of which she called dead sister.” These kids are doomed, as left to their Mid-American whatever as Ohio, as passed over as the lower middle class. It’s “too late for crow and all the deer have been hit.”

Still, there’s a tenderness here. Poetry survives unlikely odds, as does sex. Smock confesses only what needs confessing. The poem and its companions in Ghost Arson never fail to surprise in their detail, and they never flinch as they stare down the big themes: “a vacuum runs below us. you ask me if I’ve ever wanted to see her handwriting. it’s nothing like yours but maybe one day.” These lines that conclude the poem give me shivers. This whole business is visceral. I love the book, but seeing the handwriting might break my heart.

-Glen Armstrong

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