The associative, frequently double-spaced lines of The Book of Daniel feel looser—wilder—than in Smith’s previous work, perhaps a reflection of what many Americans characterize as the increasingly chaotic tenor of our age ... It’s thrilling to witness a poet who was once told he shouldn’t write about blowjobs so that his poems could be 'relevant to a larger community' and who still 'hate[s] how helpful [he is] even when not asked' writing about whatever the fuck he wants. This book is characterized, in part, by Smith’s compelling confidence—even (or perhaps especially) when it’s his self-loathing that he’s confiding ... Though The Book of Daniel is a less bleak collection than his previous one—and I don’t use bleak pejoratively here—it doesn’t shy away from his most difficult subjects: the trauma of homophobia, both past and present; his fraught relationship to sex; the specter of suicide ... I admire Smith’s refusal to serve up the tidy narrative his audience might crave.
... seethes with tension, anger, unease ... [Smith's] lines about the place where fear and desire intersect (which, in some ways, is everywhere) are frank and arresting ... A hardness is balanced by moments of gutting tenderness, particularly in poems addressing his mother and her illness.
Whereas Smith’s previous book of poetry dealt in nuance and innuendo, he shows a more easily humorous side to his writing here, while still addressing serious topics with breathtaking severity. Smith is at his funniest when name-dropping poets ... But Smith also tackles difficult subjects head-on ... Smith’s poetry proves endlessly provocative, often difficult, but never more of the same.