“Lake Winds,” just issued by Smith’s publishing company, Bottom Dog Press, does venture out of the area at times. But many of the poems are set in the Lake Erie area, at or near Smith’s hometown, Huron.
Smith will be reading poems and autographing copies of his book at two events:
•2 p.m. Saturday, Mr. Smith’s Coffeehouse, 140 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
•5 p.m. May 24, Converging Paths Meditation Center, 158 Market St., Sandusky
Smith, 71, is a retired English professor from Bowling Green State University, a job he mentions in the book’s retirement poem, “Clearing out My Office.” “Walking to the car, I smile, knowing that/for all these years I’ve been paid/ for doing what I love”
Other poems find Smith interacting with his children and grandchildren and his wife, exploring Buddhist and Catholic spirituality, coping with grief and contemplating his own mortality. The book is illustrated with photos from the author’s son, Brian Smith.
Many of Smith’s books, which include fiction as well as poetry, are set in southern Ohio, in the Ohio River valley where he grew up.
“This book is definitely set in the lake area,” Smith said. “I’ve lived here 40-some years. So it’s not surprising that I write about this area”
Many of the poems are “in the moment poems,” which Smith describes as “noticing what’s going on around you and quietly putting it down”
Smith said he’s influenced by Chinese poetry.
“I’ve translated two books of Chinese poetry,” he said. “I love the Chinese poets and have shelves of their books”
The poems are accessible and transparent, easy on people who think they don’t understand modern poetry.
Smith said that’s what he likes to publish at Bottom Dog Press.
“As an editor and publisher, it’s a conscious choice to publish that kind of work” he said.
But as a writer, he isn’t making a calculating choice, he said.
“It’s just who I am,” he said.