A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Harvey, who teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, introduces a new voice that tries to exist in the gray area between good and evil, love and hate. Her prose pieces and lyrics examine the divided, halved self in poems about centaurs, ship figureheads, and a robot boy. Throughout, Harvey's signature wit and concision show us the double-sided nature of reality, of what we see and what we know.
"Harvey's vision of America is spooky, apocalyptic, and beautiful: proof that there is wonder in even a dark time like ours."—George Saunders"The verse and prose poems of this third collection by Harvey is rife with her signature wit (the factory puffs its own set of clouds), darkened by an ominous sense of fearfulness in a post-9/11 world, which the poems' seeming levity tries to combat. The backbone of the collection is a pair of sequences—titled 'The Future of Terror' and 'Terror of the Future'—that explore those two increasingly loaded words using a clever alphabetical system with surprisingly haunting results: 'We were just a gumdrop on the grid.' Prose poems bookending the sequences present a fable about a lonely robot ('When Robo-Boy feels babyish, he has the option of really reverting'); a study of appetite ('Ma gave Dinna' Pig his name so that no-one would forget where that pig was headed'); an explanation of how the impossibility of mind-reading led to love ('Even when they press their ears or mouths or noses together, the skull wall is still in the way'); and an unlikely dinner ritual ('rip the silhouette from the sky and drag it inside'). A few short, lineated poems punctuate the blocks of prose: 'World, I'm no one/ to complain about you.' Harvey continues to match her unique sensibility with subjects that matter."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Matthea Harvey is the author of two previous books of poetry Ptiy the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form and Sad Little Breathing Machine, and a children's book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is a contributing editor to jubilat and BOMB. She lives in Brooklyn.