Mbembe Milton Smith
150 pages, $13.95 paper
Mbembe (Milton Smith) was a very fine poet, and he is greatly missed on the
contemporary poetry scene. His poems were extremely well-crafted, sharp-edged,
poetic urban snapshots of any city he might find himself in. The language
he employed in his poems was on-point, minimal, but always echoed the blues and
jazz music that he loved. His time here was brief, but the poems he left us will
Mbembe was—IS—one of our most nourishing poets. He used language deftly—with a lively,
affectionate respect. We regret his departure. But his legacy will continue to warm literature.
At the root of his pen was a tough, unyielding, stubborn honesty. His major
contribution was his determined quest for truth and literary excellence; he was
a fine, fine poet, pushing his work toward brilliance.
—Sterling D. Plumpp, Black American Literature Forum
This is not a book to read casually and forget. It forces a reader to see beyond the words on a
page, to join Mr. Smith in wanting a better world.
—The Kansas City Star
The passion of Mbembe's words leaves one reeling long after the harsh imagery and non-stop
exhausting metrical beat are consumed...these poems convey the struggling of a brooding soul
wanting to know the Whys of the human condition. Mbembe viewed the world in its most
basic terms; consequently, it is his brilliant searching consciousness that is left behind for
—Stanley E. Banks
Mbembe Milton Smith (1946-1982) received his B.A. and his M.A., with an emphasis in creative
writing, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Before his untimely death he published
four books of poems: To Go On, Allegory of the Bebop Walk, Playing Side
Two, and Consolation Prizes. His poems appeared widely in newspapers and magazines.
Anthologies were beginning to pick up his work. He taught at Rockhurst College, Fordham
University, and in the City University of New York system. The Black American
Literature Forum said of his work, "Mbembe's poems express a hunger for a
fuller life, for an affirmation of existence." The Kansas City Star
commented, "Mbembe works with his own special problem of saying what he has to
say and saying it in the authentic voice of special culture." The literary
quarterly Northeast summed up his work by suggesting we look for his
light "on dark waters of the bay—red
flashing four: courage; white flashing one: love—you
find your way safely to harbor."
A recorded interview with this author is available from