Of Silence and Song doesn’t just reward close, attentive reading. In fact, it demands it. Of Silence and Song is a highly lyric book, advancing a series of impressions rather than the march of a central, tightly reasoned argument.
Confessional poetry—particularly work that deals with the end of a relationship—is exceptionally tricky to pull off without coming across as navel-gazing and self-centered. Edith, however, is a remarkable work of pathos, using the inward gaze to illuminate both the self and everything around that self.
The portrait these letters paint of an artist trying to hone his craft at all costs transforms them from obscure Proustiana into a richer portrait of Proust the man, neighbor, and writer.
Written in 1958 but given due packaging in a new book from Song Cave, Lionel Ziprin’s “Songs for Schizoid Siblings” are, at the simplest assessment, a historical oddity.
The subtle mark of Smith’s excellence is how each poem arrives where it’s at—meeting both itself and the world, inhabiting them at once and entirely.