Elevate Difference

Word Comix

Word Comix by Charlie Smith is a collection of poetry that often explodes with strange and unfamiliar words. Reading it, I kept getting the desire to grab a dictionary and improve my vocabulary. Oftentimes the poems, especially ones starting with ellipses, feel like jumping into someone's inner monologues, getting a peek into their secret thoughts about politics, romance, being middle-aged, waiting, living in the city, the natural world, and many times, just the intense feeling of solitude and loneliness.

Word Comix is Smith’s seventh book of poetry, and he also has six novels published, among having received a variety of awards, grants, and fellowships. It is interesting to note that he is also a fiction writer, which I think becomes apparent through both his prose poetry style and the way he seems to take on a variety of different voices and personas throughout the collection. These constantly changing voices keep the collection feeling fresh and wonderful.

The poems that resonated most for me were the shorter, structured pieces, little scenes of emotion. My favorite was "An Illustrated Guide to Familiar American Trees," in which the narrator moves through the city, speaking of the bursts of city sunlight and certain trees on a block which they "love...like [their] own brothers." A few times, I felt the more verbose pieces lost me in their "above my head" word choices. But, there is also an irony and a humor that runs throughout the whole collection, that kept me reading through even those particular pieces.

I wouldn't say Word Comix is a particularly feminist work, but there were definitely little snippets throughout the whole collection that moved me and that I felt I could relate to. Many pieces definitely deal with the desire for connection even while living among so many in such a vast city. Inhabiting a big city myself, this was a theme I definitely could understand. So, don't expect any huge revelations or radical thoughts when reading Word Comix, but also don't miss the small moments of beauty it offers up.

Written by: Lesley Kartali, October 20th 2010

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