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About this poet

R. T. Smith was born in Washington, D. C., in 1947, and he was raised in Georgia and North Carolina.

He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including In the Night Orchard: New and Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2014) and Outlaw Style (University of Arkansas Press, 2007) and Messenger (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), which both received a Library of Virginia Annual Literary Award. He is also the author of the short story collection Faith (River City Publishing,1995), and he coedited Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2003) with Sarah Kennedy.

Smith has received fellowships and grants from Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and in 2013 he received the Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry from the Library of Virginia. He has previously taught at Appalachian State University and Auburn University, where he coedited Southern Humanities Review. He currently serves as the writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University, where he edits Shenandoah. He lives in Virginia.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
In the Night Orchard: New and Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2014)
The Red Wolf: A Dream of Flannery O’Connor (Louisiana Literature Press, 2013)
Outlaw Style (University of Arkansas Press, 2007)
The Hollow Log Lounge (University of Illinois Press, 2003)
Brightwood (Louisiana State University Press, 2003)
Messenger (Louisiana State University Press, 2001)
Trespasser (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)
Hunter-Gatherer (Livingston Press, 1996)
The Cardinal Heart (Livingston Press, 1991)
Finding the Path (Black Willow, 1983)
From the High Dive (Water Mark Press, 1983)

Prose
The Calaboose Epistles (Iris Press, 2009)
Uke River Delivers (Louisiana State University Press, 2006)
Faith (Black Belt Press, 1995)

Hardware Sparrows

Out for a deadbolt, light bulbs 
and two-by-fours, I find a flock 
of sparrows safe from hawks

and weather under the roof 
of Lowe's amazing discount 
store. They skitter from the racks

of stockpiled posts and hoses 
to a spill of winter birdseed 
on the concrete floor. How

they know to forage here, 
I can't guess, but the automatic 
door is close enough,

and we've had a week 
of storms. They are, after all, 
ubiquitous, though poor,

their only song an irritating 
noise, and yet they soar 
to offer, amid hardware, rope

and handyman brochures, 
some relief, as if a flurry 
of notes from Mozart swirled

from seed to ceiling, entreating 
us to set aside our evening 
chores and take grace where

we find it, saying it is possible, 
even in this month of flood, 
blackout and frustration,

to float once more on sheer 
survival and the shadowy 
bliss we exist to explore.

From Messenger by R. T. Smith. Copyright © 2001 by R. T. Smith. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.

From Messenger by R. T. Smith. Copyright © 2001 by R. T. Smith. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.

R. T. Smith

R. T. Smith

R. T. Smith is the author of numerous poetry collections, including In the Night Orchard: New and Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2014). He lives in Virginia.

by this poet

poem

After Shiloh, with smoke still scumbling the air,
the Harper’s artist paced away
from the sunken road where a full brigade
had been strafed and decimated.
The flies had begun to swarm, lighting on the eyes
and open wounds of the fallen, the stench
already gut-wrenching, heartrending,
as were the groans