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Charlie Smith


Born on June 27, 1947 in Moultrie, Georgia, Charlie Smith served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1968 to 1970, then went on to earn a B.A. from Duke University in 1971 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1984.

His debut collection of poems, Red Roads, was selected for the National Poetry Series and was published by Plume in 1987. It received the Great Lakes New Poets Award. His second collection, Indistinguishable from the Darkness, was published by W. W. Norton & Company in 1990.

Since then, Smith has published a number of other collections, most recently Word Comix (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009); Women of America (2004); Heroin and other poems (2000); Before and After (1995); and The Palms (1993).

He has also published five novels, including Cheap Ticket to Heaven (Henry Holt, 1996), Chimney Rock (1993), The Lives of the Dead (1990), Shine Hawk (1988), and Canaan (1985), and a collection of novellas entitled Crystal River (1991). In 2001, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Charlie Smith lives in New York City.

By This Poet



in rome I got down among the weeds and tiny perfumed
flowers like eyeballs dabbed in blood and the big ruins
said do it my way pal while starlings
kept offering show biz solutions and well the vatican
pursued its interests the palm trees like singular affidavits
the wind succinct and the mountains painted blue
just before dawn accelerated at the last point
of departure before the big illuminated structures
dug up from the basement got going and I ate crostatas
for breakfast and on the terrace chatted
with the clay-faced old man next door and said I was
after a woman who’d left me years ago and he said lord aren’t we all.