The strongest poems in Matthew Buckley Smith's Midlife--"The Year of," "Egg and Dart," "Another Achilles," "Ankou"--attain a particular kind of perfection, long unsought, but no less a perfection for that, being both immediate and unencompassable. The latter three of the four poems I mentioned are mid-length blank verse monologues, and are the best examples of that somehow especially American form that I've read in years.

– Shane McCrae 

Midlife is a book about the unsettling complexities and longings of a settled life, a book suffused with complicated sentiment and insight born not only of loss and disappointment but also of the unexpected joys of durable intimacy. In dramatic monologues and lyrics, in lines that feel both chiseled and improvised, Matthew Smith explores without frills or fakery the vicissitudes of attachment in an uncertain and unstable world. What Virginia Woolf said of George Eliots Middlemarch could be said of Midlife: it is a book for adults. 

– Alan Shapiro

In Matthew Buckleys Smiths aptly named Mid-Life, poem after poem springs organically from exactly that – the middle of life, the middle of living, memorializing the present as they look back on childhood and forward to inevitable loss. He is the rarest of phenomenon these days, a poet who is able to use form as servant to the poem rather than its master, whose work is rich with pathos and sentiment and beauty while avoiding artificiality or cliche . These are rewarding and emotionally intelligent poems, adamantly tender and elegantly turned.

– Hailey Leithauser

It was not beautiful,” Midlife begins, and it is true that Matthew Buckley Smiths second collection returns again and again to failure, loss, and emptiness. Indeed, the collection thoroughly dismantles many of our dearest pieties. But what these poems desecrate, we come to realize, should never have been sacred—a comforting lie is still a lie and more dangerous for its comfort. Nor is Smith all despair or simply a misanthrope. For all their formal, rational precision, these poems care most about human beings, and their concern honors our hardships. As Smith attends to our personal and collective disappointments, he does so with such extraordinary eloquence, such nimble rhythm and rhyme, such marvelously incisive details, that we find ourselves smiling even as we are taken apart. This book is hard and generous and very beautiful. 

– George David Clark

Matthew Smiths Midlife is written from that stage of existence, and yet its wisdom radiates from a poet who seems to understand humanity at every age.  Some of the best poems Ive read about fatherhood grace this volume, which balances the weight of longer dramatic monologues and meditations with small lyrics, gemlike in their hard beauty. Smith does it all with formal mastery and generous-hearted wit. I loved this book.

– Mary Jo Salter 

I absolutely love this book. Its dramatic voices are especially close to my heart, but the lyrics knock my socks off as well. Its a deeply impressive collection.

– David Yezzi 

...virtuosic formal facility, as well as the nimble elegance of his classically plain style...

– Brian Brodeur, Spoon River Poetry Review

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Matthew Buckley Smith is the author of Dirge for an Imaginary World (Able Muse, 2012). His poems have been featured in American Life in PoetryBest American Poetry, and Poetry Daily. He hosts the poetry podcast SLEERICKETS and lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughters.