"This overview of poetry in America, written by a major contemporary poet who has served in the front lines of the poetry wars for over four decades, brings the story into the present in a manner only possible for a practitioner of the art who is also a powerful critic."-James Applewhite
"This wonderful collection of essays and interviews ranges from literary criticism to memoir and back again, probing but leaving mercifully unsolved the mystery of how a young man becomes a poet. Along the way we discover many ways in which discouragements may be converted to encouragements, and behold what wing shots may be got off with the aid of a stout heart, a clear eye, and a steady hand."-Henry Taylor
In Hunting Men, poet Dave Smith reasserts the validity of poetry in our times. With eloquence, grace, and a searching intelligence, Smith illuminates both poems and poets. Believing that "great poetry cannot be divorced from an intimate, organic link to place," he builds a compelling case for the importance of southern poets. Like the hunters who taught Smith as a young man patience, observation, and willingness to rely on his senses, he leads readers on an expedition through a specific poetic place with a sure sense of direction and destination.
Beginning with a discussion of southern poetry that seeks to define the form and its value for a global readership, the first of the book's three sections also includes reflections on Edgar Allan Poe, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, and James Dickey. In the second part, Smith focuses on contemporary poets Richard Hugo, Stephen Dunn, Stephen Dobyns, and Larry Levis, among others. In the final chapters, he examines how he came to be a poet and reflects on the nature and practice of poetry.
Smith describes himself as a poet born and raised in the South "but never entirely comfortable with the neighborhood or many of the public assumptions about southernness." By describing why southern poetry is important to him, he reveals why poetry matters to all of us as he asserts the moral weight of regional art. "My success, if it occurs, will be to send readers to the books of the poets where the world, as they knew it, waits and is full of the delights of the unglimpsed and known."
Dave Smith has published many books of poems and essays, most recently Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992-2004. He has been twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and once a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors include two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Virginia Prize in Poetry, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, and election to the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is Elliot Coleman Professor of Poetry and Chairman of the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University.