destination out—charles c. smith

ISBN: 9781988040394
Pub date: Spring 2018

destination out is a dark collection of poetry in three parts. The book tells of leavings: from family, countries of origin, legacies based on truth and rumour in small communities back home, and what happens after. Some poems depict artists full of so much that they reached beyond their bodies’ borders and ended up spread out on a table for final reckoning, or venturing into mad houses and brothels and gutters in wet snow. The collection also reveals elders, mystics, lovers, and seers who glimpsed shades of light and reached out to them, falling into the inexpressible and the unknown.

In destination out, charles smith reveals an exacting poetic clarity for the intensity of the moment, and a fine poetic ear for the lyrical. His lines, ‘you wove your experience / as at a loom / the yarn threaded theory / clothed spirit,’ might well be a statement of his own poetics. These poems journey with certainty across the solid ground of smith’s poignant yearning to know his father and his namesake brother who died just before smith’s birth; his celebration of the brilliance of US jazz artists against the racism meted out to them; and his horror at the violent and harrowing attacks on an ancient culture.” —Maureen Hynes, author of The Poison Colour

“The poems in destination out compel you to dive deep into shadows, witness the beauty there, while admiring the magnificence of nature.” —Dane Swan, author of A Mingus Lullaby 

“smith takes the reader on a lyrical, poetic hang-time experience roller coasting through the vastly deep infinite skies between childhood adventures, an estranged father, and a wayward young man’s rebirth, redemption, and adult-awakened confidence rooted in jumping, life-breathing jazz. This is more than imitation ragtime wolverine blues. These poems are tight, meticulously crafted, syncopated, and always invoking meaningful light. destination out is a true revelation and a must read!” —Michael Fraser, author of To Greet Yourself Arriving

“charles c. smith’s poetry is about walking ‘out of circumstance’ by people who know ‘first-hand / all the patterns of the darkness.’ It has the urgency of breath and the beauty of blood. The speaker in these poems recounts the journey of his family through time in a voice ‘deep as death.’ Smith’s poetic language is a fractured mirror held up to stories, defying the limits of observation.” —Bänoo Zan, author of Songs of Exile

“charles c. smith is a true poet: not only an artisan of rhythm and words, but a conjurer of the quiet voices who reside in liminal space. We hear in his works the pain of injustice and loss, the tragedies of the marginalized and near-forgotten, and the hope of redeeming history. Smith jars the reader out of the comfort zones of the warm and familiar and into the places that disquiet our hearts and minds. destination out is a brave work.”  —Dr. Georgia Wilder, lecturer/writing instructor, New College, University of Toronto

Photo: Bia Rohde

charles c. smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited twelve books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, has edited three collections of poetry, has four published books of poetry, and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines.