There is beauty in breathing razorblades and exhaling a painted sunset as delicate as it is too much to behold; that’s what Danielle Smith accomplishes in her first publication, GNARLY. And “gnarly” is the perfect description of Smith’s words as she takes you for a rollercoaster through first loves and heartbreaks, all playing out like a soundtrack under the visual madness of a New Mexico skyline. Smith has lit a match that burns just as bright as one of those remarkable sunsets.
And she manages to set the reader on fire, too, turning your heart into the campfire that might light the night as she whispers in your ear bittersweet-everythings; because this is the human experience. It is raw, gritty, soiled, messy, gnarly. From the truth showcased in teenage romance, in poems such as Minerals and Freckles, to the raw and heartfelt honesty of (His) Tie Dye and Making Nothing Out Of Something, Smith manages to take the reader down a new route where so many have tread before. She’s just wearing new shoes and holding a machete, fierce as a bleeding heart, to bushwhack her way through the bramble of her own thinking.
Her book reads like an indie record, but you want everybody to hear this one. Other poems, like Super 8, showcase true artistry, peppering the reader with hidden messages like whisper-kisses, finally ending on the “title track”, Gnarly which is everything and nothing you’d expect upon reaching the end: all madness, all frantic, all knees knocking, lip biting, nail scratching grit.
Overall, both deeply touching as it is a shock that such a young voice could carry so much wisdom and experience.