In this new collection of poems, Ron Smith reveals a variety of distinct poetic voices — each of them concerned with the holy moments in our secular lives. In the sections entitled “Enchantment & Other Demons” and “Things As They Are,” the poetic voice rises to confront unexpected moments of beauty or isolation in our daily lives. In the “Seasonal” poems, the speaker is reawakened to his own capacity for enchantment and vulnerability by the discoveries his young children make as the world and its languages unfold before them. And in “Arabesque,” a long prose poem, the poet explores the journey of the self — the erotic self, the naming self, the self contained/imprisoned by the walls of language and convention — toward selflessness and freedom.
Smith’s poems offer many varied pleasures. Without grasping — either the reader or the topic — some of the poems erupt with a sensation of holiness, if one can use that word without its connotations of righteousness and didacticism. This brief example is from (and about “Tall trees”: “Spreading their roots/over the earth’s surface,/they hold the soul of the world/in their embrace.” Even when it is a poem’s playfulness and humor that at first nudge the reader, these effects become effortlessly suggestive in Smith’s hands. He quotes his children’s questions and observations: Nicole, for instance, at her fifth birthday party, asks, “When I grow up, do you grow down?”, and observes of roses, “I love them, I can smell them with my heart.”
From his writing place on Vancouver Island, Smith ventures beyond boundaries and categories of all sorts. “To live out of time, beyond the brief darkness of dreams,” the poet says, “is to court demons.” Enchantment and Other Demons is, simply, a marvelous book.
–Thomas M. F. Gerry, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1996