Selected Poems and Translations: 1969-1991
"The road is what the car drinks/traveling on its tongue of light/all the way home." With lines like these William Matthews has created a body of ... Show synopsis "The road is what the car drinks/traveling on its tongue of light/all the way home." With lines like these William Matthews has created a body of work that stands alone in American poetry. Witty, sophisticated, yet lucid, his poems bring the reader refreshing insights into the everyday world of sports, music, wine, psychology, homes, pets, love, children, and literature. In the course of a brilliant career Matthews has also translated poems from French, Latin, and Bulgarian. In this first selection culled from his complete body of work, readers who have never sampled Matthews's poetry, or who cannot find it in print, will be able to take the measure of one of our most versatile and original poets. Matthews characteristically watches "the lights come on/in the valley, like bright type/being set in another language." Illuminating and thoughtful, his poems speak the truth in a way that prompted Peter Stitt, one of our most respected critics, to write that "William Matthews may be the wisest poet of his generation." In writing about W.H. Auden, Matthews could be describing himself: "The language has used him/ well and passed him through./We get what he has collected." This book, which includes some previously uncollected poems and translations, also draws on nine previous volumes: Ruining the New Road, Sleek for the Long Flight, Sticks & Stones, Rising and Falling, Selected Translations from Jean Follain, Flood, A Happy Childhood (that astonishing collection of poems with titles from Freud), Foreseeable Futures, and Blues If You Want, as well as translations from Martial and contemporary Bulgarian poets. "Our true subject is loneliness," he writes. "We've been divorced 1.5 times/per heart." "But think/with your body: not to be dead is to be/sexual, vivid, tender and harsh, a riot/of mixed feelings, and able to choose."