The Book of Daniel
Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)
Praise For The Book of Daniel: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)…
—The New Yorker
"The direct and vulnerable fourth collection from Smith (Blue on Blue Ground) explores queer identity, masculinity, and mortality, informed by the American obsession with celebrity in various forms. . . . This newest collection offers an expansive, diverse consideration of identity and grief."
"Whereas Smith’s previous book of poetry, Primer (2016), dealt in nuance and innuendo, he shows a more easily humorous side to his writing here, while still addressing serious topics with breathtaking severity. . . . Smith’s poetry proves endlessly provocative, often difficult, but never more of the same."
“[The Book of Daniel] seethes with tension, anger, unease. . . . hardness is balanced by moments of gutting tenderness."
—The Boston Globe
“Aaron Smith is queer poetry’s lacerating, arch, self-aware satirist in the age of poetry-branding, ‘everyone / saying they’re brilliant.’ (If Smith had a brand, it might read, No more being peaceful, as he writes at the end of ‘I Pledge Allegiance to the Fag.’). The poems in The Book of Daniel, damaged and violent and intimate, wryly circumspect, demand nothing—certainly not admiration—other than the reader’s unflinching attention. I admire them, and get the hell out of their way.”
“‘Does anyone have / a poem to Cher?’ I doubt it’s as honest or fresh as the poems in The Book of Daniel. Can a poet be as well-versed in Plath, Lorde, Olds, and Baraka as he is in celebrity and pop culture? Spoiler alert: hell, yeah. With the gift of a high-speed Internet connection, Smith maneuvers the confusing messages of grief, rejection, and, yes, contemporary poetry. Poets beware: you are not off the hook. Smith brilliantly challenges everything you hold sacred.”
“Reading The Book of Daniel is like catching up with a raucous, well read, deeply sensitive, mercilessly candid friend. With astonishing turns—heartbreak to hilarity and back—the poet leads us through fantasy, brutality, daydream, irreverence and devotion. Smith’s wit is impressive, not irony-as-evasion, but laughter of the highest order, retrieved from bewilderment and sorrow. These poems will reward your attention with their effervescence and their depth.”
“Aaron Smith writes with arresting, melancholy literalness about bruises, exaltations, arousals, delectations, and defeats. He doesn’t mess around with filigree. He sticks to abject delineation, punchy straightforwardness—a new way of being formal and naked. I believe in these gripping poems, and in their message to the world.”
University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822965961, 80pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
About the Author
Aaron Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Primer, Appetite and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and Best American Poetry. A three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, he is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Mass Cultural Council. He is associate professor of creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.