“A very assured, and, I think, auspicious debut. . . . [Matthews’] desire to be artful is supplied with delicate and stringless artistry, and does not quench the poetic impulse of its raging, even ragged, inspiration.” J. M. Bockman, Literal Latté
The Mill Is Burning
978-0-8021-3886-6 • $13.00 • Paperback • Apr. 2002
Matthews was the winner of the 2001 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and his"poems
possess a wonderful, illuminating intricacy"(Nicholas Christopher).
first collection of poems, The Mill Is Burning, Richard Matthews
brings to bear an astonishing range of poetic modes and voices to explore
landscape internal and external, light and dark, real and fanciful, near and
remote. These are poems distinctive in both their lyrical and emotional urgency
and their intelligence and craft.
Matthews does not flinch from difficult subjects. In"Cavafy Suite," he
re-imagines and relocates poems by the celebrated Greek poet to create a
harrowing tour of the labyrinths of depression. The sequences"Ad Astra"
and"Tenebrae" are beautiful but painful portraits of D. H. Lawrence and the
poet's mother, respectively, approaching their deaths. Yet he also gives us
poems of celebrationof redemption through music in"Of Mere Virtuosity," of a
distant lover intimately conjured near in"Cloister"and poems of wonder, as a
dragon drops from the sky in medieval France, moths blanket Penelope's Ithaca,
and a Rothko painting morphs into a lush Korean landscape.
Challenging and moving, Matthews's poems enlarge our intellectual and sensory
engagement with the world. This is a rich and original debut.