Carolyn Smart’s Hooked

BY DAVID BLOMENBERG, Poetry Editor

hookedHot off the presses is Canadian poet Carolyn Smart’s sixth book, Hooked, from the wonderful people at Brick Books.  The collection is a series of seven long poems, each about or from the point of view of a woman of some notoriety, from notorious Hitler supporter Unity Mitford (sister of famous writer Nancy) to serial killer Myra Hindley to acclaimed author Carson McCullers.

Each of the poems unfolds the compulsive, obsessive nature of each of these women, often quite chillingly, with quotations from their correspondence.  After Unity Mitford’s failed suicide attempt, Hitler visits her, consoles her, but her hopes of Britain coming over to the side of the Nazis had been dashed:  “I put my Party badge in my mouth/ and swallowed that golden possibility/ I tried again and again/ but nothing worked…”

“Good writing is like guilt,” Smart writes in “Complications Janie,” the penultimate poem in the collection, whose speaker is Jane Bowles. It is, certainly, in that it follows you wherever you go.  Smart’s writing is immediate, insistent, and revealingly shows the longing, the drive that propels these often not very sympathetic women. Hooked is an intriguing read, well worth looking into.

Hooked, by Carolyn Smart

120 pages

Brick Books, ISBN 978-1-894078-69-6