In Prayers for the Dead Ventriloquist, his first collection of poems, Smith mines childhood memories—snapshots not only of family, but of a mischievous youth—with a precise poetic vision. “This harsh, particular light,” writes Dorianne Laux in her introduction to Smith’s book, “falls first on the people who pass through his small world.” Smith relates episodes of a reality unclean and unpolished, even at times horrific, yet always strangely beautiful. It is this beauty alone that offers reconciliation—the rising hair of woman in an automobile slowly consumed by flames, the metallic body of a hummingbird, the delicate bones of a lover’s back—small pleasures of day’s persistence.
Smith, D.J., "Prayers for the Dead Ventriloquist" (1995). Ahsahta Press. 36.