NC Literary Hall of Fame



Down to Earth by Crystal Simone Smith

Longleaf Press
$10.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1734398519
May, 2021
Available from the author or

“Has freedom made us lazy, we might wonder as we read these incredible poems in Smith’s Down to Earth? Are we tourists in our lives, troubled by a history of enslavement? The voices and stories of black lives penetrate these questions in this collection of poems that don’t coddle or pull away from our earthly struggles to find hope and meaning in our human work. Down to Earth is an asking, a plea to take comfort in the stories and people who anchor our living. 'Was it ever wrath?' asks Smith in her ars poetica, revealing that better and worse are spun from the same lightning strike. Poems like 'Uncloudy Day' exemplify the core thematic energy of the book, that in the hardness of life God resides, and there is still time for us to 'stand / gazing at the sky / unfisted and glad.' With nods to poets to like James Wright, Edgar Allen Poe, and Sylvia Plath, let Down to Earth direct your attention to the ways in which God is all around us, though He might take the shape of a bird or another creature, it is our job to catch the fleeting nature of this hope."
—Amber Flora Thomas, author of Eye of Water, The Rabbits Could Sing, and Red Channel in the Rupture

Down to Earth revels in the author’s relationship to God—the presence and often the absence of God. In these confessional poems, God is, at times, visible, unheeding, and even nonexistent. The collection is grounded and steeped in unyielding inquiries of faith and human compassion. It is a purposeful exploration, in which, the author creates her own gospel.

Crystal Simone Smith is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Routes Home (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Running Music (Longleaf Press, 2014). She is also the author of Wildflowers: Haiku, Senryu, and Haibun (2016). Her work has appeared in numerous journals including: Callaloo, Nimrod, Barrow Street, Obsidian II: Literature in the African Diaspora, African American Review, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She is an alumna of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and the Yale Summer Writers Conference. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and lives in Durham, NC with her husband and two sons where she teaches English Composition and Creative Writing. She is the Managing Editor of Backbone Press.

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