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Kedging is John Matthias’s first book of poems since his long New Selected Poems of 2004. The volume is divided into five parts: “Post-Anecdotal” includes short poems on autobiographical and elegiac themes; “The Memoirists” engages the lives and writings of Lorenzo Da Ponte, Edward John Trelawney, Frederick Rolfe, Céleste Albaret, and Vernon Duke; “The Cotranslator’s Dilemmas” deals with Swedish poets, Swedish poems, and issues of translation; “Laundry Lists and Manifestoes” ranges from Homer and the Old Testament to Internet technology; “Kedging in Time” deals with the lives of several families in the context of British naval history; and “The Back of the Book” prints an essay called “Kedging in Kedging in Time,” which was commissioned by Chicago Review as a commentary on the final poem in the volume. The three extended sequences in the book underline the observations of Mark Scroggins in a review of New Selected Poems – that Matthias, working in the tradition of late modernism, but in middle-length poems that are not open-ended, has “written one Briggflatts after another.” Robert Archambeau has said that Matthias writes “successfully in a wider range of styles than any other contemporary poet.” John Kinsella has said simply that Matthias is “a great poet.”
“One of the best poets in the USA.” – Guy Davenport
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