Mar 18

Blot Lit Reviews: Running Music by Crystal Simone Smith



Running Music by Crystal Simone Smith
Longleaf Press, 2014
Reviewed by Elizabeth Mobley

Crystal Simone Smith’s Running Music sings all the sweet melodies of home. The poetry in this collection is simple yet inviting, short but deep, allowing for a quick run through or a methodical jog. These traditional poems, ripe with metaphor, double meaning, and an easy simplicity make the author’s voice friendly and inviting. Sitting down with Running Music is like sitting down for coffee and conversation with Smith.

Themes in the collection include running, family, loss/grief, motherhood, food, and the gentle beat of every-day life. Although most of the poems have a simple rhythm and tone, they are actually multilayered, with many possible meanings. In “Speed of Years,” for example, she writes about how her grandmother sees the electronics in the world today differently than they are, she talks about the sterility and coldness of hospitals, but she is also discussing the healing touch of family, the way time marches on, and how running can be a literal exercise and a metaphor for a busy life:

They’ve removed her [grandmother’s] bladder,

a matter she swipes an IV taped hand to, says:
It’s nothing, my potassium’s just low.

I tell her, when she asks about (all this running):
I don’t run on a machine, I run on pavement.

You got two boys to tend, she stresses,
Ain’t that running enough? At times, I say

as I consider what we can rely on—
speed of the years, affliction,

her dabbing my knee scrapes, a cigarette
always dangling off her lips—at times it is.

“Speed of Years,” like most of the poems in the collection, speaks to everyman, not just to runners, as the title may suggest. Running through life and overcoming life’s obstacles reverberate through each poem, instilling a comfort that none of us, even in the darkest times, is alone.

The poems in Smith’s collection sing affirmations of life, perseverance over struggles, and the easy flow of the poems keeps them running through the mind over and over again. Running Music is for the reader who desires fond memories of the past, strong connection to family, and a love for hitting the pavement. Pick up a copy of this collection, and allow Smith to serenade you with a rhythmic journey back.