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Simon Smith’s Mercury comprises three sections or “books” filled with his characteristic gem-like poems. As with his earlier collection Reverdy Road, Smith’s poems demonstrate tremendous wit and profundity tempered by lightness of touch. This is a wonderfully accessible collection which casts a knowing eye on Roman classics and contemporary life.
This remarkable new volume sports the brevity and cheek of Martial’s epigrams, providing the excuses and occasions – Mercury is a book of pith, turning on an urban-knowing wit, a rag-bag of flip, it embraces the complexities of ordinary language and expression. Veracity sounded through fleeting moments; these are poems that say difficult things simply.
Mercury is Simon Smith’s third full-length volume of poetry.
On Reverdy Road:
“When asked to name my favourite Salt book for 2003 my answer was Simon Smith's Reverdy Road ... it was such a surprise ... reading so many [images] together, they exploded into clarity ...” –Tim Allen, Terrible Work
“Smith is master of the deceptively casual poem.... At its best ... [his] use of the short form over so many pages achieves an effect comparable to a villanelle.” –Simon Coppock, Poetry Review
“The Jack Lemmon of English poetry.” –Geraldine Monk
‘Simon Smith has a fresh, compelling voice, which simultaneously draws you in and holds you at bay. This collection of poems manages to be personal and yet objective, witty and yet emotional, pared-down and epigrammatic but at the same time sharp, colloquial and strange. An impressive achievement.’ —Nicci Gerrard
‘Simon Smith’s poetry at first seems to hurtle, pushing from high-speed line-break to line-break through love, through outraged bewilderment (hurdle and hurt), through the craftily recycled throwaways of modern phrase. As poem overlaps with poem, there’s the effect, though, of detail being traced over preceding detail, a musical refrain or a decorative pattern emerging through sequences that replay and transmute their own elements, slowing the tempo down as they create dwellings-on, lyric memory, improvising with the sonic shapes they have initiated. Mercury is Simon Smith at his best.’ —Richard Price, nominated for the Whitbread Prize 2005
‘The Jack Lemmon of English poetry.’ —Geraldine Monk
‘Smith is master of the deceptively casual poem.’ —Simon Coppock, Poetry Review
‘Simon Smith’s Mercury pushes the limits of language and line to just short of the fragmentation of words and meanings.’ —David C Ward, PN Review 175