Poetry and Compassion

Essays on Art and Craft

by Frederick Smock


This book may be obtained from your local bookstore, on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or you may order directly from the publisher.

ISBN 1893239535   $15.00.  

Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Dr
Nicholasville, KY 40356

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 "Frederick Smock is a smart, sensible, and witty guide who will lead you into the house of poetry and describe its many rooms. He is an insider, a poet himself, and a therapist who specializes in relieving the symptoms of poetry-phobia."
— Billy Collins

Frederick Smock is a poet-in-residence at Bellarmine University, Louisville, where he received the Wyatt Faculty Award in 2005. He has published three books of poetry with Larkspur Press, with individual poems in The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, and many others. He is the recipient of the Leadingham Poetry Prize and the Jim Wayne Miller Prize for Poetry. Mr. Smock is married to the writer Olga-Maria Cruz.

From the book ---

    Artists evolve peculiar methods. Sometimes they do so out of necessity. Hemingway wrote standing up, in later life, because of a bad back. Proust, a neurasthenic, wrote lying down in a cork-lined study. Maya Angelou locks herself away in a hotel room in order to gain the required concentration.
    Sometimes they do so out of a curious choice, perhaps a superstition, to court the various muses. D.H. Lawrence climbed around in mulberry trees naked—the rough bark excited his imagination. The poet Marianne Moore lay in a coffin she kept in her New York City apartment, staring at the ceiling, not infrequently puffing on a thick Cuban cigar.
    The German author Fredric Schiller kept a drawer of rotting apples in his desk; whenever he felt his inspiration flagging, he pulled open the drawer and
took a strong whiff of the emanating fumes. . . .


    It is a political act to read a poem. Though I might wish otherwise, though I might wish that a poem be only that, a poem, I am also aware of how it creates a counter-motion—to haste, to unfeeling and unthinking. At a poetry reading in Westchester, New York, just days after the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11, Stephen Dunn read only love poems. They worked as a counterweight to the recent tragedy, in no way obscuring it, but simply adding to the moment a voice that spoke intimately of the beautiful. . . .


    In a famous incident during the recent Balkan wars, an old man carried a chair and a cello into the Sarajevo street known as Sniper’s Alley. He sat down, arranged his limbs around the instrument, and began to play Albinoni’s "Adagio in G." For the next eight minutes or so, no shots were fired. The war came to a halt.
    The old man finished the adagio and escaped back into the city unharmed. No one shot him, or his instrument—an instrument of peace, not war. His music had enacted a cease-fire, however brief. . . .