Synopses & Reviews
At the center of Mayakovsky's Revolver
is the suicide of Matthew Dickman's older brother. "Known for poems of universality of feeling, expressive lyricism of reflection, and heartrending allure" (Major Jackson
), Dickman is a powerful poet whose new collection explores how to persevere in the wake of grief.
from Mayakovsky's Revolver
I keep thinking about the way
blackberries will make the mouth
of an eight year old look like he's a ghost
that's been shot in the face. In the dark I can see
my older brother walking through the tall brush
of his brain. I can see him standing
in the lobby of the hotel,
alone, crying along with the ice machine.
"The central sequence of Dickman's raw, frightening, well-told second collection commemorates his deceased brother, remembering their shared delinquent years, their attraction to drink and prescription drugs, and the severe mental illness that disfigured his brother's adulthood. Around that 13-section elegy Dickman arranges other recollections of youth, lust, and strife, 'my teenage mystery and finger, my skateboard and Circle Jerks album,/ all those ghosts like birds-of-paradise/ being lifted out of the dark.' Death is for Dickman's late brother 'your little love, your hot nipple-action/ of fear, a train/ in the dark before it breaks,' while the tranquilizer Halcion once seemed to the poet a necessity of life: 'I can feel you melt on my tongue like a naked girl wearing a diamond/ crown, standing barefoot on a bed of ice.' Dickman's jagged lines connect his own and his family's self-destructive impulses to the Russian modernism of Vladimir Mayakovsky, who shot himself, and to other eminent modernists. Do not confuse the deceased brother, never named here, with Matthew's twin Michael, also an eminent poet. Even jaded readers could be won over by the last, longest poem, in which Dickman pivots to the present, listing persuasive reasons to live." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"While references to punk rock, digital culture, and club drugs help Mayakovsky's Revolver resemble the America that twentysomethings grew up in, Dickman's collection also humanizes these cultural touchstones....By locating humanity within this progressive cultural moment, Dickman's work stands in contrast to current trends among young poets." Portland Mercury
From a dazzling, award-winning young poet, a collection that paints life as a celebration in the dark.
About the Author
Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem, winner of the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the coauthor with Michael Dickman of 50 American Plays. He lives in Portland, Oregon.