A Swallow Press Book
Northern Summer is a representative selection from John Matthias’s previous books, together with a group of poems written since 1980. Robert Duncan wrote of his first book, Bucyrus, that in part “Matthias is a Goliard – one of those wandering souls out of a dark age in our own time.” The present selection includes the three epistolary poems from Turns – hailed as “major art” by Arthur Oberg in Western Humanities Review – as well as the long “Poem for Cynouai” from Crossing, which extends and modifies their idiom. The book reprints entire “The Stepfan Batory Poems”, written on a Polish liner while Matthias traveled to America after a year in England during the last stages of the Watergate controversy, along with three sections of “The Mihail Lermontov Poems,” written two years later while returning on a Russian ship to England. The comic vision of these poems has been widely acknowledged since the publication of Crossing, a book the TLS found “bursting with masterful intelligence” and Thames Poetry called “packed with poetic thought, devilment, and complexities of spirit.”
The new work in Northern Summer culminates in the title poem, a personal and historical meditation set in Scotland. In it a new landscape and history – that of Fife and “The Matter of Scotland” – join the East Anglian and Midwestern American concerns of his earlier work. It is a poem that bears out Neil Corcoran’s observation in PN Review that Matthias is a poet “whose exceptionally original work has something of David Jones’s magpie eclecticism and much of his sustaining interest in specific re-imagined historical occasions.”
John Matthias is the author of seven previous volumes of poetry. He teaches at Notre Dame University.
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