There's a new review of This Time Tomorrow
up now on the Rattle website. Hearty thanks to Maryann Corbett for her thoughtful and enthusiastic consideration of the book.
Here's an excerpt:The jump-cut is the book’s most dependable device. The habit of moving in and out of the present narrative, to some associated thought or some earlier event, is a good tool for insinuating the traveler’s permanent sense of unease. The long poem “Something to Declare” is especially virtuosic in its jumps from an actual Chinese tourist destination, to an imagined tale of an old and a young monk, to conversations with poets and restaurants in Matanwan, to Count Basie playing in a bar, to the poet finally crossing Hudson Street in New York “to get on with the rest of my life.”
There's a very nice review of This Time Tomorrow by Claire Trévien in the new issue of The Warwick Review
. She describes the poems in the book as "leviathan poems, mingling past and present in their exploration of the world." I've added an excerpt to the "T3" page
on this site.
This is a special issue featuring "New Poetry from the US" and I'm happy to also have two poems featured there -- an excerpt from the book-length poem I've been working on, as well as a poem from the other new book project I'm starting to see the shape of. It's exciting (and humbling!) to have my work included here as representative of what's happening in American poetry these days.
Every Possible Blue
and This Time Tomorrow
have each been reviewed recently. I'm always grateful for reviews (positive or otherwise) because they mean someone has taken the time to give my work a close reading, to consider it and mull it over and try to say what it means to her or him.
Susana H. Case takes a close look at EPB
in Word Riot
"Part of the well-crafted nature of these poems is the attention to visual detail; color, yes, many blues, but more than color. He’s the square silver camera / that takes all this in.
(“Hokkaido Photo”) And despite the blues in the poems (the title a reference to Bonnard and the last few words of his
poem about Bonnard, “Still Life,” these are not “the blues,” but rather a music considerably more up-tempo. There is a jazzy resonance in this collection that makes the reader feel she is in a different time period when it was possible to borrow Max Beckmann’s tuxedo."
Check out the full review here
Meanwhile, over in the UK Nigel Jarrett recently reviewed This Time Tomorrow
. The review is not online, unfortunately, but here's a brief excerpt:
"...New Yorker Matthew Thorburn does offer the contemplations and consolations of travel, especially in places where existence is precarious and easily translated into the voyager's sense of impermanence."If all these kind words make you want to read the books yourself
, Amazon is currently offering a discount on Every Possible Blue
, while the best deal on This Time Tomorrow
is to order it directly from Waywiser Press
(free shipping!). You can also get signed copies directly from the author -- just check out the "Tomorrow" or "Blue" pages on this site.
Thanks so much to Poetry Daily
for featuring "Little Thieves"
as their poem of the day today.
"Little Thieves" appears in This Time Tomorrow
and first appeared in the excellent journal Memorious
"Little Thieves" describes a night markets on one of the "snack streets"
in Beijing. Remembering this scene -- where birds I wouldn't have thought of as "food birds" were being served up off the grill -- made me think of Mao's campaign against the sparrows, which I had read about in one of those wider-ranging, feature-y year-end issues of The Economist
-- a surprising source of useful info for several poems in This Time Tomorrow
That's something I love about writing, and especially about writing poetry: how you collect these odd bits of visual or historical info and let them bump up against each other until you start to see the possible connections between them.
I admired 32 Poems
well before I ever sent them poems -- or had any accepted for publication. I like their self-imposed constraints: 32 poems of 32 lines or less per issue. (Actually, did I make that up? I can't find a statement like that on their website....) I'm not sure what the relevance of those 32s is, exactly, but working within those walls they have put together an interesting, surprising, always worthwhile read in every issue I've picked up. Along with the wonderful Cave Wall
, it's one of my favorite journals to read -- and one of the places I'm happiest to place a poem.
Which means I'm doubly delighted to have two poems in the Fall/Winter 2012 issue: "At Badaling,"
a poem about the sun bears in China (subsequently featured in This Time Tomorrow
), and "After the War," a poem inspired by a scene in The Tin Drum
(and which is probably part of a new collection I'm slowly piecing together).
The other cool thing 32 Poems
does -- or another
cool thing they do; there are more than two! -- is to invite poets featured in each issue to respond on the magazine's blog to another contributor's poem from the issue. I have to admit, I love writing prose about poetry like this, and was very happy to get the invite to write one of these. I picked Kathryn Nuernberger's surprising, beautiful, troubling poem "Birds of Ohio"
and provided this response
. Then Kathryn kindly returned the favor and shared her thoughts
on "At Badaling." And this was after Hastings Hensel had already very generously responded to "After the War" with this beautiful piece
. I find these little essays really add to the experience of reading the journal (and not just when they involve my work!) and wish every literary magazine did this.
Big thanks to editor George David Clark
for publishing these poems and for inviting me to share my response on the 32 Poems
blog. (I'm best at this kind of writing when on assignment, and candidly I wish more editors invited me to write prose.)
I remember the first "Next Big Thing" interview I read was by Mary Biddinger
about her second book of poems, O Holy Insurgency
. Since then, it seems like pretty much everyone has done one—and now Rebecca Morgan Frank
has tagged me to do one too.
And in the spirit of keeping a good thing going, I'm going to tag three poets I don't think have done this yet, but should: Susana Case
, Jay Leeming
and Andrei Guruianu
This interview took place during the recent AWP Conference, on a snowy morning over breakfast at at a waterside hotel in Charlestown. The coffee flowed freely and so did the conversation.
What is your working title of your book?
My third book of poems was just published this month by the Waywiser Press
. It’s called This
Time Tomorrow.Where did the idea come from for the book? This Time Tomorrow
is a collection of poems about traveling and finding your way in other cultures and landscapes—specifically Japan, Iceland and China. My wife and I visited each of these countries over the course of several years. While I didn’t set out on these trips with the intention of writing this particular book, I knew our experiences in these surprising, challenging, sometimes disorienting places were things I would want to find their way into my poems in one way or another.
A friend’s wedding led us to visit Japan in the summer of 2005, and following that trip I wrote a long poem called “Disappears in the Rain,” which was originally published as a chapbook by Parlor City Press in 2009. This poem, written loosely in the shape of a renga, sits at the heart of This Time Tomorrow
. It’s preceded by a sequence of poems set in Iceland and followed by a group of shorter poems set in China and Japan.What genre does your book fall under?
What that same happily married friend and I used to refer to in our college days as “the first genre”—poetry. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in their younger days. (If you’re going to ask, I’m going to go for it.) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A poet finds his way (in many different senses) through unfamiliar landscapes by looking both outward and inward. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book was published by the Waywiser Press, under the careful and generous guidance of editors Philip Hoy and Joseph Harrison. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
That’s hard to say. As far as I can remember, I started writing “Disappears in the Rain” in early 2006 (after my memories had percolated for a while) and was working on drafts of some of the last poems to go into the book while I was at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference
in the summer of 2009. But there’s also one poem in the book I wrote while I was in the MFA program at The New School
, circa 1999, which never felt right for my first or second book, but fit into This Time Tomorrow
like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. And come to think of it, there’s a three-part poem in the book that I drafted before grad school, brought to David Lehman’s workshop at The New School, then tinkered with on and off for the next 10 years—and again, it never felt at home in a manuscript until this book came into focus.
Maybe novelists can give clearer answers to this question, but for me it tends to be the case that I’ll have poems like this that keep hanging out waiting for a book they fit. Putting together my first book, Subject to Change
, I found I had some really good poems that just didn’t work in the context of that collection—and ever since then I’ve been happy to hold a few back that might be the start of the next book, or the next. And for that matter, I wrote a couple of poems after This Time Tomorrow
was accepted by Waywiser that might have fit into the book. But it felt like that door had closed, poems-wise—the book felt complete to me—so they will probably find their way into the next manuscript.What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?
I would trust other readers’ answers to this question a lot more than mine. My response is more aspirational than observational, but I can tell you I had Elizabeth Bishop’s poems about Brazil in mind, as well as poems by Seamus Heaney and Robert Hass. In addition, what I do structurally in several of the poems in the book is splice together several different story lines within a single poem, so that the poem cuts back and forth between narratives. That’s a move that I later realized was inspired by Pulp Fiction.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by my experiences in these countries—by everything that was delightful and unfamiliar and disorienting, by the excitement of getting to know new places and the bittersweet feeling of then having to leave them behind.
Traveling in places that are new to you, you experience a continual sense of discovery—just ordering breakfast can be an adventure—but of course all this is only new to you: for most people there, it’s just everyday life. Jasper Johns said that sometimes we get so close to our lives we can’t see them anymore. For me, being in Japan and Iceland and China for the little while I got to spend in each had exactly the opposite effect. Everything felt clarifying and wakeful, like warm bright light and a new pair of glasses. And that was something I wanted to recreate in these poems as a way of going back and being there again.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
For all the fog-on-the-mountains stuff I just said, these poems are also filled with the real, roll-up-your-sleeves stuff of life being lived. Who wouldn’t want to read about following in Bill Clinton’s footsteps to sample the best hotdogs in Reykjavik
? Or visiting the tomb of the first emperor of China, discovered when a farmer tried to dig a well? Or taking a peek inside a mountain-top monastery in Koyasan to hear the monks’ six a.m. prayers?
For that matter, how many books of poems feature cover art by a Chinese emperor? As the story goes, one day twenty cranes alighted on the roof of the emperor’s palace. Who wouldn’t consider that a sign of good luck to come, of good things to discover when you open the book?
This Time Tomorrow
is here! Hot off the presses in Cornwall and ready for the AWP Conference next week in Boston, where I'll be signing books and reading with David Ferry
, Morri Creech
and a host of other fine poets published by Waywiser Press. And then a reading here in New York, again with David and Morri, at the end of March, and home state readings in Ann Arbor and Lansing at the end of April. (Michigan friends, I'm coming to see you!)
You can get the full debrief and preview -- read a few poems, take in a blurb or two, get the inside scoop on the story behind one of the poems -- right here
on this site.
And in the spirit of the day after the Oscars, I have some important people to thank. I'm very grateful to Philip Hoy, Joseph Harrison and the Waywiser Press for handling my work with affection and care, for producing such a beautiful and elegant book, and for now helping This Time Tomorrow
to find its first readers. If you're a poet looking for a publisher, I would definitely recommend sending your manuscript to the next Hecht Prize competition
So how can you get a copy? This Time Tomorrow
is available now directly from Waywiser Press
with free across-the-pond shipping. Or you can order a signed copy
from me via this site. If you prefer our online giants, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are offering a 35% discount on pre-orders. I would be happiest of all to have you come to one of the events in Boston, New York, Lansing or Ann Arbor, if you'll be in one of those palces, where you can hear the poems, and some of the stories behind them, and I can sign a copy for you and say thank you so much for reading.
The AWP Conference
is only about a month away. Are you going? This will be my third AWP. I tend to go every year or two when the conference returns to the Northeast. The book fair is my favorite part -- it can be overwhelming, for sure, but I love seeing all the different literary journals and getting the chance to meet in person editors I've only known through their emails or via Facebook. It's also exciting to see all the new books hot off the presses. Especially for poets, it feels like our whole community of writers and editors and publishers is there, all buzzing around that one really big hall.
I'll be doing two readings and two book signings this year to celebrate my two new books, This Time Tomorrow
and Every Possible Blue
. Please check out my Events
page for all the details. The Waywiser off-site reading is especially exciting -- I'll be reading with a terrific line-up of poets published by the press, including David Ferry, Morri Creech, Carrie Jerrell, Dora Malech and Eric McHenry. To make it even more enticing, we're reading at an Irish pub!
Here's a look at the official cover of the Hecht Prize Anthology,
which is due to hit bookstores and be available for online orders as of November 8th. Info about the anthology
is now up on the Waywiser site, including a rundown of all the good folks included in it -- including Craig Arnold, Ken Chen, Erica Dawson, Daniel Groves, Carrie Jerrell, John Surowiecki and D.H. Tracy, just to name a few of the 50 poets featured here. I'm in fine company indeed.
As mentioned below, the anthology offers a nice sneak preview (7 poems!) of Every Possible Blue
I'm very excited to have my work included in The Hecht Prize Anthology 2005-2009
, edited by Joseph Harrison and due out from Waywiser Press in November.
For info on all of Waywiser's fall titles, click here
The anthology features a generous preview -- seven poems! -- of Every Possible Blue
, which was a finalist/semifinalist for the Hecht Prize three times, and will be out from CW Books in May. This book also marks the start of my publishing relationship with Waywiser, since the press will be publishing my third book, This Time Tomorrow
-- a finalist for the 2010 Hecht Prize -- in 2013.
I'm pleased to be in the good company of so many fine poets in this anthology -- and hope to actually meet some of them, and have the chance to read together, once the book is out. There's definitely a sense of kinship I feel with many of them, having competed for the prize over several years, and seen them doing the same. One of the less talked about benefits of entering book contests is learning about the work of other poets, whether they're the contest winners or your fellow finalists. It's not as fun as winning the contest, of course, but it widens your readerly sense of the poetry world.