image of the book cover of Invisible Lives

Invisible Lives

Cristalle Smith

$56.99 HC / $26.99 PB (T)

114 pages

6 x 9 inches

Hardback: 978-1-77385-513-4

Paperback: 978-1-77385-514-1

Epub: 978-1-77385-516-5

Library PDF: 978-1-77385-515-8

July 2024

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My ex-husband tried to choke me to death while I was sleeping. I was twenty-three years old. I survived.

Invisible Lives chronicles cycles of dysfunction and domestic violence. Using experimental hybrid poetry, Cristalle Smith breaks generational silence in lyric resonance, reflecting on a childhood rife with upheaval and poverty, the invisibility of single motherhood, and the silence of domestic violence. These poems sing memory across divides of time and space, breaking the patterns of absence and denial and challenging what is kept unseen.

Associative leaps chronicle the daughter of a family always on the move. Family secrets thaw in spring mud. Invisible Lives delivers poetic meditations collaged with pop culture and impossibly colliding landscapes. The prairies of Alberta collapse into the sinkholes of northern Florida in a cacophony of lyric layering.

Smith’s fierce and electric voice breaks taboos and challenges the status quo. She sings poor and working class lives, young lives, the lives of mothers, grandmothers, and daughters, the lives of veterans, lives that have endured layers of intersecting trauma and violence. Invisible Lives is an interrogation of power and intimacy that gives a new voice to the people who survive.

About the Author

Cristalle Smith has been published in ARC Poetry, CV2, subTerrain, and more. She won the Lush Triumphant Award for Creative Nonfiction in 2020 and has a chapbook with Frog Hollow Press. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her son. Invisible Lives is her debut poetry collection.

Brave, devastating, and formally daring, Invisible Lives is dazzling poetry that tells terrible truths. Smith’s evocations of abuse, trauma and dislocation beam through a prism of blistering imagination. These remarkable poems are testimonies of pain transmuted into a brilliant poetics of resilience.

—Nancy Holmes, author of Arborophobia

Some minds have such gravity they can warp genre and form, space and time. Such is the mind at work in Invisible Lives. In these pages, what appear at first as fragments of memoir and lyric, travelogue and history, transform into a single galaxy where turn-of-the century chatrooms, the poetry of W. B. Yeats, New Jersey factories, Thomas Edison, and the Great Salt Lake are all manifestations of a unified field. The lives Smith depicts are one life, harrowing, incredible, but never tragic. Invisible Lives is a force around which light bends and returns.

—Matt Rader, author of Fine