I’m thrilled to introduce this month’s Poetry Feature by Matthew Harrison, an MFA student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who writes so damn well that if I hadn’t gone back to read his bio, I’d have thought he was on his second or third book by now!
“Succubus” and “Sympathy for the Lady Who Misplaced Her Retainer” are big, risky, funny poems that manage to pull off what’s almost impossible in long poems: they keep the attention of Atticus Review’s moody, caffeine-addled Poetry Editor (hint: that’s me). I like the range and brevity of “Bliss,” too. Then you have [the cat passed away] which has so many good lines that if I started quoting them, I’d end up reciting the entire poem.
The other day, I was telling my students that coming up with good, twisty lines isn’t all that hard; what really constitutes good poetry (in my not-so-humble opinion) is craft: taking those good lines and weaving them where they need to go, and maybe couching them in enough humor and poignancy that the ego dwindles in the face of some deeper, universal truth of existence. OK, I didn’t say all that, but I think that’s what I meant.
More to the point, Matthew’s poems are a great example of disarming humor, not to mention just the kind of lyrical and cerebral sleight-of-hand one can pull off with clever line breaks. Overall, these poems resonate with a playfulness hinting at a deeper sorrow that hints at a still deeper—and possibly redemptive—commonality. Whatever that means.
Anyway, enjoy the poems!