REVIEW: BAD IDEAS | BY MICHAEL V. SMITH

>>From a review published in The Province: Mark Abbot reviews Michael V. Smith’s new poetry collection, Bad Ideas.

Nightwood Editions | $18.95 | 96 pages | purchase online

Michael V. Smith is a multi-talented novelist, poet and performance artist whose work has always been expressive and honest. His first poetry collection, What You Can’t Have (Signature, 2006), was shortlisted for the ReLit award. Bad Ideas is his second book of poetry and deals heavily in themes of family, sexuality, spirituality, life and death. Smith’s poetry is moving, beautifully written and heartfelt.

Bad Ideas is divided into four categories: prayers, dreams of friends and family, queer and little things. And in many ways, it is a “book of anxieties … an address to better understand them,” according to Smith’s dedication. In fact, anxiety is a leitmotif running through all of Smith’s work; reading his poems is like being privy to a therapy session in a room with a two-way mirror, with Smith on one side lying on the patient’s couch, and us on the other side spectating curiously.

There is a lot of heartache in Bad Ideas, pain dripping down through each line. I admire Smith for his bravery, his gravitas. These are heavy subjects that have touched him deeply. His work is autobiographical, but he is a gifted wordsmith who takes us on an emotional poetical journey. One hopes to find true happiness somewhere in the book, and I’m not entirely certain you’ll find it here – at least not in the shallow sense. And that’s perhaps the point. Life isn’t a Hollywood film with perfect endings. Bad Ideas is well worth reading for the spiritual ride, even if it’s a bumpy one.

Read the review in full on The Province website!