Saturday, September 13, 2008

John Matthias: Kedging: New Poems

Kedging: New Poems, John Matthias (Salt, 2007)


Matthias is one of the last true-blue high modernists, along with a handful of others, including Christopher Middleton & John Peck. And he's the most quotational, referential, & paratactic of the lot – in short, the most Poundian (or David Jonesian). Happily, he long ago cured himself of the Poundian-Olsonian urge to Make the World a Better Place Thru Poetry, & can turn the machinery of association to the ends of instruction (we learn lots of stuff in these poems, about lots of sometimes arcane matters) and delight – and they're lots of fun, the big "Laundry Lists and Manifestoes" & "Kedging in Time," poems that form the core of this new collection. High spirits abound, but shot thru with moments of piercing melancholia.

[A shorter note on Matthias than I'd prefer, but my full-length review of Kedging will be in the next Chicago Review.]


Joseph said...

Mark, have you written about Peck? Would be very interested to get some guidance in regard to that body of work. Joe D

Mark Scroggins said...

Alas, Joe, I haven't begun a real ascent of the Peck mtn (aside from actually *reading* the books). There are some smartish reviews out there, I recall – Annie Finch, Bob Archambeau – & a biggish chapter in Archambeau's forthcoming book. Other than that --

highmodernist said...

No Mark, Mathias is not "the most quotational, referential, & paratactic of the lot – in short, the most Poundian (or David Jonesian)." I am.

Also, have you taken a gander at John Ryskamp's long poem "The 21st Century." Its monumental. And then of course there's Brennan's immense work. Hail, the FlashPoint club.

There are servicable elements in Mathias, but I must say it appears that currently in this genre the real talent is getting short shrift. No question. Carlo Parcelli