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Wonderland: Poems (Paperback)
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Matthew Dickman engages the traces of his own living past in poems that “light both heart and mind” (David Kirby, New York Times).
In the southeast Portland neighborhood of Matthew Dickman’s youth, parents are out of control and children are in chaos. Ghosts of longing, shame, and vulnerability haunt these luminous, hypnotic poems as Dickman confronts a childhood of ambient violence, well-intentioned but warped family relations, and confining definitions of identity. Wonderland reminds us that in neighborhoods filled with guns, skateboards, fights, booze, and heroin, and home to punk rockers, skinheads, poor kids, and single moms, we can also find innocence and love.
About the Author
Matthew Dickman is the award-winning author of Wonderland, Mayakovsky’s Revolver and All-American Poem, winner of the May Sarton award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Tender and troubling, dark and glowing.
There is an unabashed rapture to these poems.… How astounding, and how perfectly troubling, to be led through this fearsome, familiar realm of choked silences and violent collisions by an intelligence as deft and buoyant as Matthew Dickman’s.
— Tracy K. Smith
It’s not possible to stop reading this book once you start, because it’s to the bone, every word, no window dressing, no artifice, no high-fat content.
— Grace Cavalieri
My first thought about the poems in Matthew Dickman’s new collection, Wonderland, was: Why doesn’t every poet write this way?… I wish others wrote with Dickman’s clarity and ability to engage.… These poems light both heart and mind. They stab you with memory’s shiny knife. ‘Ouch,’ you say, and then ‘thank you.’
— David Kirby
[Dickman’s] ability not only to recollect but also to relive his childhood in the present moment, as if boy and man coexisted and conversed with each other, manifests a hard-won wisdom.
The poems are ferocious and hardened by a backdrop of addiction and poverty.… In Dickman’s poems, readers observe as the bright-eyed potential of youth is shattered by the devastation of adulthood’s onset.
[Dickman’s] imagination, the possibility of better, helped him filter and preserve from the sharp and rusty clutter the beautiful moments of childhood. Thus, the collection relates a sweetness it should by all accounts be unable to render.
— Brian Juenemann
Dickman reenters youth in all its peaks and valleys—without exaggeration or cliché.… While many of Dickman’s poems tell stories and carry narratives across poems, they also follow their own meandering logic, like a late night conversation.
— Emma Winters
A wonderful new poetic voice writing warm and cozy visions of old Portland, Oregon. I loved it.
— Gus Van Sant, Academy Award–nominated filmmaker
With Wonderland, Matthew Dickman captures the vicissitudes of childhood: the mess and wildness of it all, how we are both held and discarded, the way darkness subsumes the glow and vice versa. Dickman’s poems are deft and sparkling and never cease to tear into you with their profound rawness and beauty.
— Carrie Brownstein, star of Portlandia and author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl