"In Psalms of the Dining Room, Lauren Schmidt lays down riffs like a fierce blues guitarist, one who knows the power of each carefully chosen note. These poems explode with tough compassion. They sting a little bit--they make us flinch in recognition. Schmidt's sharply etched details tell the powerful stories of her characters' struggles to be seen, to be acknowledged as human. These poems remind us of how close we all are to each other, despite efforts at denial and distance, despite how violence can erode the human spirit. Her characters fight for dignity in the face of everything rigged to keep them down."
---Jim Daniels, author of In Line for the Exterminator
"The poetry of Lauren Schmidt does what poetry should do: make the invisible visible, indelibly, unforgettably. If ever a collection of poems embodied Whitman’s dictum to speak for ‘the rights of them the others are down upon,’ this is it. The poet worked for several years as a volunteer at The Dining Room, a free meals program (what used to be called a ‘soup kitchen’) in Eugene, Oregon. The poems inspired by the experience of working with this community–the poor, the unemployed, the physically and mentally disabled, veterans, the homeless–humanize the dehumanized, compelling us to see what we do not see and hear what we do not hear, to gaze upon the ‘ugly’ until it becomes beautiful, to re-imagine, re-invent and repair the world. These are poems of lament, praise and thanksgiving; thus, they are truly psalms, and belong to that Biblical tradition."
---from the foreword by Martín Espada, author of Alabanza: New and Selected Poems
"Lauren Schmidt's poems are the product of close attention paid to revealing details of her life, exactitude in language and emotional complexity. She neither bows at the altar of the ego nor stoops to mere artifice. Her poetry is earned, and it rewards close reading with sometimes gritty epiphany and uncommon grace."
---Sam Hamill, author of Habitation: Collected Poems
"These are tough, aware poems. Schmidt is not a decorous writer; she turns over ordinary life to describe what's underneath. In language that is simultaneously crude and elegant, she bears witness to the absurdities of bodily existence, and makes of them her own urgent music."
---Kim Addonizio, author of Lucifer at the Starlite: Poems