Southeast Missouri State University Press

This Smile Is Starting to Hurt

Dylan Loring

Publication: March 29, 2024
Pages: 100

Dylan Loring’s This Smile is Starting to Hurt feels like an unending costume party where everyone is dressed up like James Tate, Russell Edson, and Charles Simic. After a while, the line between real and surreal disappears. Loring writes it’s “easier to wear black / than it is to speak truths” but the truth that emerges perfectly suits the times we find ourselves in. Loring’s speakers are “tasked with sculpting / a form out of all this nonsense” and through that form, I see a reflection of human nature in the present day that no mirror could match. I’m somehow charmed, disturbed, and enthralled by this original and stunning debut. You will be too.  —Adam Clay, author of Circle Back


I always love the protean energy of Dylan Loring’s poems. They give joy, they dizzy as they shift subject, shape, and tone with no warning. If many of the poems strike the reader as comic rewrites of confessions after the priest has thrown the speaker out of the booth—well, then, that may be the future of confessional poetry. In that case, you read the future here first. —Richard Robbins, author of The Oratory of All Souls


Dylan Loring’s wildly comic collection of poems, This Smile is Starting to Hurt, has among its precursors the great Kenneth Koch, proponent of serious fun. To paraphrase another poet of the New York School, Frank O’Hara, life is much too important for solemnity. This collection is both a series of aural delights and a reminder of what fools we so often are. Reading it, you will find, to quote Loring himself, “when the muse speaks, the message goes in one ear / but never out the other.”  —Angela Ball, author of Talking Pillow

Trade Paper, $17.95
ISBN: 979-8-9868593-7-8

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