The poems in Ben Smith’s first chapbook map shifting environments, strange ecological events and dubious auguries. They trace rivers, coastlines and other borders, where saints set sail in boats of stone, wolves stalk the suburbs of Chernobyl and scientists leap from cliffs dressed in coats of feathers. Told through the voices of birds, unreliable seers and broken bones found in rivers and museums, these dark, playful poems explore prophecy and ritual, science and uncertainty in the era of climate change.
“To say that these closely-woven poems are storm-warnings of environmental crises is true enough, or equally to say they ground their intelligent apprehensions in observation of bird species vivid and specific enough to satisfy an ornithologist. What you might not expect from these descriptions is that they are beautiful. That is the most unsettling thing of all.”
“These poems are something special. They shift the ground from under you like the subtle movement of tectonic plates. This is the proper stuff: succinct, observant, taut with precision; poetry that magnifies and strangely changes the way we see the world.”
“Ben Smith’s poems are deeply attuned to what remains in us of the wild. Intensely lyric, playful, sharp-eyed and inventive, they immerse themselves in the elements and come back feeling fresh, renewed, alive.”