Here, he juxtaposes religious iconography with stories from history, biography, and personal narrative. Read more...
Here, he juxtaposes religious iconography with stories from history, biography, and personal narrative. In the poignant "Saint Catherine in an O," a knife bears unlikely duality--an object stirring with danger and grace.
"A man plays slide guitar / with his pocketknife, accompanying the words of his songs--/ one about light, the Lord moving on water . . . / how blood, he knows, will make him whole." In other poems, he reflects upon master artists, who captured similar themes in their art though in different mediums. Brimming with poems that are quietly powerful, Vellum marks the arrival of a commanding new voice.
A brilliant debut
Newcomer Matt Donovan offers a remarkable collection of poems in Vellum, his first book and the winner of the 2006 Katherine Bakeless Prize for Poetry. Throughout the volume, Donovan writes about the master artists of the past, their working methods and materialsfrom plaster to ink to paintcomparing their crafts to his own. His poems are painterly and often catalogue images, as in "A Partial Invocation of Our Days": "And yet, let's begin with macadam, fruit bowls, a Florentine mosaic / Louie Louie's three slurred chords . . . Since otherwise our days brim with dismantling, breakage, endless / riffs on the division into parts, I'll invoke here only assemblage."
Artists of all stripesCharlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Botticelli, Pablo Nerudamake appearances in these poems, demonstrating the multiplicity of the creative act. Donovan's broad range of reference and the visual nature of his verses gives this book a wonderful sense of scope and historical perspective. Donovan, it seems, is an artist in love with creation, a writer in love with life, and these rich, vivid poems prove it.