Monster Theory by Lytton Smith

Winner of the 2007 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

Monster Theory
by Lytton Smith, selected and introduced by Kevin Young.

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson.


The poet seems to whittle away at grammar while maintaining the grand gesture—as their titles imply, in “Hereafter” and “Charm Against the Loss of Crops” there’s an autumnal quality whose tone could be overwhelming if it wasn’t for Lytton Smith’s confidence of line and language, which makes the poetry sing.

—Kevin Young

The Tightrope Walker's Childhood

Fear of wheatfields. Fear of groundbeetles.
Fear of where the tree trunk disappears

below ground. Fear of ground opening
to absence like the magician's trick cabinet.

She can sleep only on water and fitfully.
Footfall is an act of brevity then she is

soundlessly at your shoulder. From stilts,
rooftops, belltowers she studies faraway,

learns to think as a wing-walker, to harness
the bird's-eye-view: rivers are blue scarves,

an oxbow lake fits in the small of her back,
the fields are a patchwork she can fold

about her at night. Here, afloat above
the sawdust ring, the audience's faces

safe as farms distance has made small, rope
is all the faith she needs. This is no feat

of balance. This is belief and aversion
this is how earth becomes afterthought.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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