Destroyer and Preserver

Overview

"Rohrer has an enchanting willingness to look outward, a willingness not to grasp the world using old means which have failed us, even if no new means present themselves ready-made."—Judges' citation, the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize

Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Matthew Rohrer illuminates the modern plight: trying to figure out how to be a thoughtful citizen, parent, and person as the landscape of terror and history worms its way into our everyday existence. Unnervingly humorous, casual, and tender, ...

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Overview

"Rohrer has an enchanting willingness to look outward, a willingness not to grasp the world using old means which have failed us, even if no new means present themselves ready-made."—Judges' citation, the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize

Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Matthew Rohrer illuminates the modern plight: trying to figure out how to be a thoughtful citizen, parent, and person as the landscape of terror and history worms its way into our everyday existence. Unnervingly humorous, casual, and tender, Rohrer's poems help us investigate our lives as he investigates his—openly and with a generous presence.

From "Dull Affairs":

How am I to concentrate
on the heavy and dull
affairs of state
with the sound of a baby having a dream
in the other room

Matthew Rohrer is the author of five previous books of poetry, including A Plate of Chicken, Rise Up, Satellite, and A Green Light, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also co-author of Nice Hat. Thanks. with Joshua Beckman, with whom he has participated in performances at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. He received the Pushcart Prize and his first book, A Hummock in the Malookas, was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Oliver. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at New York University.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rohrer writes poems that crackle and sputter, often branching toward new meaning and emotion within the span of a single line, as in the book's opening poem, where "the universe/ is a long sentence/ according to our instruments/ the oldest songs are/ breaking apart." If the poems sometimes elevate the mundane in a way that is difficult to trust ("I haven't/ put much thought into it. I just feel good"), they also demonstrate a closeness to their emotional and political urgency ("there is a look in your eyes/ I would blindly fly a plane into") that is rare in contemporary poetry. "The Terrorists" powerfully traces the ways in which the compulsion toward violence implants itself in our psyches ("while she pushes/ her daughter on the swing/ the accusation of the fountains/ murmurs do it") long after a violent event has occurred. For all this sharp observation, Rohrer sometimes leaves a poem on a note of sincere defeat, as in "Poem on the Occasion of the Midterm Election," which ends "It's we who are powerless." Seldom are poets this honest about what we hope isn't true, a fact that renders this collection hopeful in its refusal to tell it any other way. (May)
From the Publisher

"...written with such tender affection–for people, for places, for the very ability to feel & think–that each poem feels weighted with equal parts nostalgia & hope." —Nate Pritts, Coldfront

"VERDICT: Griffin Poetry prize finalist Rohrer is upcoming, and rightly so. Anyone committed to contemporary poetry should read." —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

"Rohrer’s new collection “Destroyer and Preserver’’ finds him struggling to synthesize his multiple selves: He’s a father, a husband, a poet, an American, and a man with “a heart/ it is too big for my clothes." —Michael Brodeur, Boston Globe

"[Rohrer's] angular, juxtaposition-based approach to narrative and his commitment to the quotidian—the everyday-made-new—show his interest in New York School poetics." —Michael Flatt, New Pages

Library Journal
"The imagination thinks/ in phrases but the universe/ is a long sentence." In fact, in the face of that rampant universe, there's only so much the imagination can do; life just escapes: "No one can say remember that cloud/ we saw in college/ it's still there let's go see it again"; even hot water is "like a dream behind the yellow gloves." We live in fragments, embedded in here and now but hardly touching it. Having managed the chores, we "fall backwards into bed at night" without a glimmer of what else is there: "all the people rounded up in camps/ have a look in their eyes/ that can't reach us now." Such is Rohrer's world, but it's not entirely a bad one; these poems, spilling forward with relentless musicality (aided by the frequent absence of punctuation and capitalization), aren't dark or sour. The speaker makes his quiet yet not desperate adjustments to everyday demands in clear, natural, unaffected lines. Sometimes the poems feel a bit too much like the accumulation of the mundane, but just as often they hit their mark. And you have to admire a guy who can write so unselfconsciously about raising kids. VERDICT Griffin Poetry prize finalist Rohrer is upcoming, and rightly so. Anyone committed to contemporary poetry should read.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933517506
  • Publisher: Wave Books
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 73
  • Sales rank: 1,488,657
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Matthew Rohrer is the author of A Plate of Chicken, Rise Up, A Green Light, Satellite, and A Hummock in the Malookas. With Joshua Beckman he wrote Nice Hat. Thanks. and recorded the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty.

His poems have been widely anthologized and have appeared in many journals. He’s received the Hopwood Award for poetry and a Pushcart prize. A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series, and A Green Light was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Recently he has participated in residencies/performances at the Museum of Modern Art (New York City) and the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle).

Matthew Rohrer was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was raised in Oklahoma, and attended universities in Ann Arbor, Dublin, Ireland and Iowa City. He teaches in the creative writing program at NYU and lives in Brooklyn.

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