One of America’s finest gay poets whose flat, dry, conversational Midwestern voice speaks with honesty and self-deprecating humor about the buttoned-down 1950s, the unbuttoned 1960s, and the out, proud, but embattled decades that have followed.
“Smith’s impressive achievement,” says fellow poet Tom Clark, “is at least partly [due to] his consummate formal control,” which he learned from his private tutor, poet Allen Tate. Though Smith has been writing lyrics and narratives for decades, Rollerdrome is his first book, published in 2002 at the age of sixty-eight.
Smith’s poems have a transparency of purpose and a refreshing humor. . . the language as plain as the nose on your face. He offers compressed narratives of family conflict, Fifties-era Catch 22 Air Force capers, and moments of sexual realization. His union of native speech patterns with a tight poetic form creates an illusion of ease and transparency. This is achieved, however, with considerable care and craftsmanship and through generous observation.
—Dale Smith, Bookslut