By Clint Smith
Black Harvard Doctorate in Poetics launches poetry that explores modern blackness. Clint Smith's debut poetry collection, Counting Descent, is a coming of age story that seeks to complicate our conception of lineage and tradition. Smith explores the cognitive dissonance that results from belonging to a community that unapologetically celebrates black humanity while living in a world that often renders blackness a caricature of fear. His poems move fluidly across personal and political histories, all the while reflecting on the social construction of our lived experiences. Smith brings the reader on a powerful journey forcing us to reflect on all that we learn growing up, and all that we seek to unlearn moving forward. - Winner, 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award - Finalist, 2017 NAACP Image Awards - 2017 'One Book One New Orleans' Book Selection
"So many of these poems just blow me away. Incredibly beautiful and powerful." --Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow
"In Counting Descent, Clint Smith reflects even the universe is telling us/ that we can never get too far// from the place that created us. Smith weaves histories, from collective to personal, to make indelible archetypes of those places that have created us all. These poems shimmer with revelatory intensity, approaching us from all sides to immerse us in the America that America so often forgets. The broad sweep of Smith s vision delivers a sudden awareness: In this poets hands, we sense, like Rilke, there is no place that does not see you." -- Gregory Pardlo, Author of Digest In Counting Descent, Clint Smith soars and patiently walks between Harvard Square and New Orleans, between the gap in his father's teeth and Baldwin's conversation with the Protest Novel, between the movement of Drake's hands and joy of sliding down a slide with his mother. Nothing, not one word, verse or line feels forced. This is only important because though most of the book feels written in what artist call "the pocket," nothing here feels at all safe. Clinton Smith dares to be naked, dares to show the reader how and why he gets dressed, and in a way I'm still trying to understand, his work ask us to show, tell, imagine and remember too. Counting Descent is more than brilliant. More than lyrical. More than bluesy. More than courageous. It is terrifying in its ability to at once not hide and show readers why it wants to hide so badly. These poems mend, meld and imagine with weighted details, pauses, idiosyncrasies and word patterns I've never seen before. This book is supposed to be a great idea. It's not supposed to work. But it does. It so does. I wish I wrote this book. Since I can't, thank goodness Clinton Smith did. Counting Descent does not take my breath away; it, in so many ways, gives me more ways to breathe." -- Kiese Laymon, Author of Long Division"
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