Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Mill Is Burning

by Richard Matthews

“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 Latt”

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 128
  • Publication Date April 19, 2002
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3886-6
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book

Richard Matthews was the winner of the 2001 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and his”poems possess a wonderful, illuminating intricacy”(Nicholas Christopher).

In his 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 celebration–of 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.

Praise

‘remarkable. . . . Matthews takes the reader on exploratory voyages through different cultures and periods. . . . He invokes a highly cultured range of references, most of them pursued to deep emotional levels. . . . The way Matthews voices and verbalizes images also recalls another famous Latin tag by Simonides of Keos, that may be translated as “Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetry”. . . . Matthews manages the feat of assimilating Asian culture as thoroughly as any Western poet since Arthur Waley. . . . A pensive and sometimes brooding poet acutely aware of legacies of war. . . . Matthews’ insights ring true because he has looked and listened with receptivity and perception. More than merely a promising author, Matthews is a poet who has kept promises to art and to himself.” –Benjamin Ivry, Denver Quarterly

“Thick with color and texture. . . . Matthews emotes via an impressive variety of voices, using his imaginative powers to give depth to worlds and times he, as well as the reader, could never logically or spatially exist in. . . . In these poems one receives the purest sense of emotion, a glimpse inside that reflects the face of the human condition.” –Andrew R.

Clark, Bookslut

“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 Latt”


Excerpt

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EM>Die M”hle Brennt–Richard
(After a painting by Georg Bazelitz)


When the red chair suspended in air
grazes the top of your head
and the white pitcher that rests on the chair

neither falls nor spills, you will move
to the window, or the empty space
in the wall left by the guns on the hill

just outside the city, and be amazed
at the mill ablaze in the distance,
the loud report of dry beams knuckled

under heat, the carousel of shadows spun
around the orange center of the flames,
because you know this cannot happen here

or because you know the mill’s been on fire
for so long that the city’s been consumed
entirely, and the heat from the mill

has blistered the red paint on the chair
and dried the water from the pitcher,
and, if you wait one more instant,

afraid that it is too late, it will be too late,
and the chair and pitcher will drift
through your hair as ash.


Copyright ” 2002 by Richard Matthews. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.