In stock (can be backordered)

ISBN: 979-8-9868593-7-8

This Smile is Starting to Hurt

Publication Date: April 2024


This Smile is Starting to Hurt is a fun collection of poems that relies heavily on imagination to explore interpersonal communication, the power of art, and some of the joys and perils of contemporary US society. The poems’ speakers are often loud and fast and funny and sloppy and cynical and inaccurate and pop punk and foolish and narrative and whacky; and yet also sincere. If you’re looking for a book of poems that prioritizes an entertaining performance and that draws attention to the anxieties and vulnerability behind the performative, this book is for you.

This Smile is Starting to Hurt was originally published by Southeast Missouri State University Press.


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

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 poems are tightly coiled vines of perspicacious sense and surprising sound unwinding at 16X speed. At the tip of each stem is a vibrant blooming something…what is that thing? Is it poisonous? Who cares? For those who like their poetry fast, tight, with one part funny/two parts sad and a dash of noir, it’s happy hour.
-Jennifer L. Knox, author of Crushing It

About the Author

© Joan Dunham-Loring

Dylan Loring

Dylan Loring is a poet from Des Moines, Iowa and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County. His poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, jubilat, Ninth Letter, The Laurel Review, and Forklift, Ohio. Along with his friends Kate MacLam and Jordan Deveraux, he edits Lost Pilots. This Smile is Starting to Hurt is Dylan’s first book of poems.

Visit Author Page