Cruel Futures

Cruel Futures
City Lights Spotlight Series No. 17





The Rumpus

"Cruel Futures is kinder than its title suggests, and steely. . . . I am so ready to go over this with a teenage relative who is half-Irish, one-quarter-Chinese, one-quarter-Filipina and so much more fabulous than she thinks, despite encouragement from loved ones and teachers. It goes without saying, though sometimes Giménez Smith thinks she has to, that this poem, this writer, this girl are all deeply American. This is vital language for our time."––Barbara Berman


Lana Turner

"Cruel Futures is irresistible in its candid, spicy, ceaselessly surprising, totally unashamed self- shaming. 'I want no window into me, not even pores,' she writes, but her poetry is loud with flung-open shutters and windows. . . . Giménez Smith is so spirited that she would be anybody's hero excepting perhaps her more assimilated children, whose doubts of her she writes about with hilarious honesty. She is at once vulnerable and fearless, full of fun, a headlong, natural performer. Exaggeration is her muse. The writing could equally be described as poetry and cut-up scrappy prose; but it escapes the low pressure and general disesteem of the latter through panicky pacing, an edgy breathlessness that remembers terrors and hurts. . . . The disregard of gracefulness, the knocking roughness here as throughout, agrees with the no-bullshit temper of the times. I find that it is itself a tricky form of grace, of elegance and poise. Everything Giménez Smith writes compels attention . . ."––Calvin Bedient


"Best of 2018: Best Poetry Books & Poetry Collections"
Dec 3, 2018

Cruel Futures appears on this list of best poetry books of 2018.

- Entropy Magazine

The Adroit Journal

"Cruel Futures is an astonishingly present imagistic exploration of aging, familial bonds, and mothering in the context of late capitalism. Giménez Smith's poems, sparkling with pop culture and gleaming with intelligence, unpretentiously welcome the reader into mortality, grief, and nurturing, while deftly highlighting how these human conditions are shaped by the race, gender, and class of those who experience them."––Luiza Flynn-Goodlett


The Adirondack Review

"Media distortion, mental illness, trauma, and oppression are among the fixations of this splendid, fierce, and essential new book by Carmen Giménez Smith, who shrewdly documents a woman's passage into and through these crucibles. . . . Giménez Smith’s self-inquiry drills down relentlessly until it reaches central, molten truths."––Marietta Brill


The Bind

"[Giménez Smith's] new collection that explores the intersections of her various identities and the contrasts between the roles she plays and has played at stages in her life. These poems are rooted in the daily details of her life, and hold a tangible immediacy and frankness that departs from the abstractions of her 2013 collection Milk & Filth. . . . There is tremendous power in Cruel Futures, a collection both supple in its vulnerabilities and firm in its defenses. Carmen Giménez Smith has survived her own story, and she has ensured her children have survived their own thus far. The book's tension comes from her awareness that her power to continue to ensure that survival is evaporating from her hands, reconstituting in their own."––David Nilsen


"15 Latinx Poets Who Are Breaking Down Borders"
Sep 7, 2018

Carmen Giménez Smith appears on this list. 

- Christina Orlando

Boston Review

"Giménez Smith's poems in Cruel Futures continue the work of truth telling that she established in her previous collections. She reminds us that our cruel pasts will lead to cruel futures, that the garbage we've consumed from television and the non-stop media cycle will color and pollute our perceptions. But in looking unflinchingly at the broken remains of the public and the personal, she also assures us that there is something to be built from the rubble. Whether she is speaking as the quick-witted badass who has 'a machete and a hot head' or the thoughtful 'friend who has walked / alongside your life without judgment,' you want her in your corner."––Emily Pérez


Publishers Weekly

"Giménez Smith seeks release from the pressures of societal expectations in this collection of brief yet powerful poems. She depicts the myriad ways that a woman's sense of self is at the mercy of assigned gender roles.  . . . She links the concept of becoming a 'monster' to women’s defiance of prescribed roles, their need to break out of which makes them dangerous . . . Cultural phenomena such as marriage and television come under scrutiny, and she handles mental illness issues with great care, particularly bipolar disorder and dementia. Giménez Smith’s crisp lyrics and imagery highlight ever-present threats to female personhood and autonomy."


Arkansas International

"[I]t's Smith’s control of the line, the lyric, her use of compression, wry humor, and pointed candor that makes the book’s captivation one that truly endures. She delves into familial issues: child-rearing; sick, aging parents; and mental health with care and magnanimous transparency. Cruel Futures is an insurmountable labor that Smith has carved from a world of grief, but retains love and humor that renders her devotion a masterpiece."


American Poets

"In Carmen Giménez Smith's Cruel Futures, it’s clear she is not interested in the kind of static attention one associates with William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as 'emotion recollected in tranquillity.' Instead Giménez Smith has places to go and then to take off from again, in the form, mainly, of social and political critiques. Although her poems achieve a certain velocity, she still manages to delve into volcanic meaning and bask in the mirror of self-reflection. To truly relish her talent is to understand her intellect as one of those plasma balls that lights up with bolts of electricity when one’s hand touches it. The speakers in her poems are charming, self-deprecating, humorous, and awed, especially when they portray what life is like as a mother, a wife, an artist, and a consumer of popular culture and literature. Because Giménez Smith experiments with a thicker set of references and inferential imagery than most, poems such as "Of Property," “As Body,” and “Ravers Having Babies” seem to outpace whatever triggered their origin, and she almost always arrives at pure lyric possession.”Major Jackson


"Carmen Giménez Smith reads a poem from Cruel Futures on Episode 19 of Poets & Writers' Ampersand podcast"
Apr 13, 2018

Carmen Giménez Smith reads her poem 'Migraine Code Switch' and discusses the poem with Carrie Fountain
Apr 1, 2018
- KUT News

"Books to Watch Out For—March 2018"
Mar 29, 2018

Cruel Futures part of this list of anticipated March books.

- Anomalous Press

"Publishers Weekly Applauds Carmen Giménez Smith's Cruel Futures"
Feb 20, 2018
- Harriet Staff

"The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018"
Jan 23, 2018

Cruel Futures included in this list, among 5 other poetry books.


"15 Poets You Need to Be Reading in 2018"
Dec 31, 2017

Carmen Giménez Smith and her forthcoming book, Cruel Futures, included in this list.

- Kristian Wilson

"Cruel Futures listed in the top 10 in Publishers Weekly's Spring 2018 Announcements"
Dec 8, 2017
- Publishers Weekly