"Edson’s vivid portrayal of the urban area, as well as the working class and underclass, creates a vision of Saint John that highlights the discrepancy between the pre-modern idyllic notion of life in Atlantic Canada and the more complicated reality of the region."

-The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia

Friday, July 1, 2016


Urban Farmhouse Press’s Cities of the Straits Series is producing some of the best chapbooks out there, both in terms of aesthetics and quality of work. Before I talk about this work, let me take a minute to comment on the hold-in-your-hands book itself. It’s beautiful. Tight binding, along with an attractive simplicity makes this series compete with anyone for quality and design. When asked about this, UFP Founder and Editor-in-Chief D.A. Lockhart says: “I wanted to up our game on them. Looking at City Lights’ series and trying to create a good literary line like that.” Mission accomplished.

And now to the words…

SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF SPOTLIT OBVIOUS by Laurie Smith (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2016)

Along with the likes of Ken Pobo’s Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (part of UFP's Crossroads Poetry Series, and reviewed already on this blog), Laurie Smith adds to a growing reputation for quality poetry in UFP’s lineup. From the dust jacket, this collection “brings us through the wonder and the questionable in our everyday lives” and connects “on a profoundly personal level”.  Case in point, my favourite of the lot, Breakfast with Dad, wherein Smith’s subtle humour and needle-sharp style reveal the profound in something as everyday as having breakfast with her father. With the clarity and simplicity of a written recipe, Smith cleverly separates the parts from the whole into five pieces: 1) how to butter toast, 2) cereal, 3) poached eggs, 4) Quaker, 5) coffee

 5) coffee
he told me I made better coffee than my sister
that was to me a great source of pride
but how could you screw up a teaspoon of instant hills bros or
maxwell house, pour in boiling water from the kettle

no sugar, enough milk to make it the colour of an acorn
in a mug that says World's Best Dad?

Indeed, this is what this collection is: parts that make a whole; the breaking down of the complicatedness of life and simplifying it for us to understand and enjoy. Smith’s work is perfect for summers on the lake, on a couch, a lawnchair, in sun or shade, wherever and whenever you need to cut away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and figure out why, despite it, it’s just so good to be smack in the middle of it all.

To order your copy, check out Urban Farmouse Press online HERE

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