David Ulin’s superb review of Ed Smith’s “Punk Rock Is Cool….”

July 26, 2019

It’s not often I read a review that can provide the context for a writer’s work while also enabling the reader to absorb the full implications of the book’s major themes. David Ulin has written an exceptionally acute account of why Ed Smith’s poetry is still relevant to our current predicaments. Only those who have attempted this kind of project can appreciate the amount of hard work that must have gone into Ulin’s in-depth reading and note-taking. At some point, I hope he edits a second volume of Writing Los Angeles in which he is able to include some of Smith’s poetry. In the meantime, the best anthology that provides readers with the work of some of the other “punk” poets, in Los Angeles, in the mid-1980s remains POETRY LOVES POETRY, in which I selected work by Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Dave Alvin, Bob Flanagan, Jack Skelly, Amy Gerstler, Dennis Cooper, and David Trinidad (Ed’s editor) as the subset of poets whose respect for Ed’s work enabled him to flourish in unexpected ways.