A fresh and rebellious poetic voice, Airea D. Matthews debuts in the acclaimed series that showcases the work of exciting and innovative young American poets. Matthews's superb collection explores the topic of want and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. Read more...
A fresh and rebellious poetic voice, Airea D. Matthews debuts in the acclaimed series that showcases the work of exciting and innovative young American poets. Matthews's superb collection explores the topic of want and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. Her poems cross historical boundaries and speak emphatically from a racialized America, where the trajectories of joy and exploitation, striving and thwarting, violence and celebration are constrained by differentials of privilege and contemporary modes of communication. In his foreword, series judge Carl Phillips calls this book "rollicking, destabilizing, at once intellectually sly and piercing and finally poignant." This is poetry that breaks new literary ground, inspiring readers to think differently about what poems can and should do in a new media society where imaginations are laid bare and there is no thought too provocative to send out into the world.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-02-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Matthewss deft, shape-shifting debut, winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, investigates the parameters of want and rebellion as a host of historical literary figures confront 21st-century life. In one sense, rebellion is the necessary tactic of a dead addicts daughter who knows well that Desire is spacious/ Wants in the DNA, and yet is determined to resist. However, its not a simple dichotomy between desire and refusal: want itself can be a kind of rebellion against scarcity, as when in Hero(i)n the speaker asks how// heron// made him fly// why heron// made him// well, less starved. Egyptian war goddess Sekhmet, home from war, considers how she has been Forced to raise/ my unpainted face for a muddy flag and slake/ my thirst with my own long, hard swallow. Narcissus, in whose story the notion of want meets that of the eponymous simulacrum, appears frequently, and quotations from Baudrillard lend the book structure. There are also fables, an opera, epistolary exchanges, tweets, and text exchanges with Anne Sexton. The wide range of forms enacts a kind of aesthetic voraciousness and refusal, though the collection itself is brief and without excesses. Matthews surveys the possible responses to what seems ineluctable, offering a work of intrepid imagination, inquiry, and strength. (Apr.)