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The Devil's Garden

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Using musical allusion and metaphor, juxtaposing history and autobiography, Matejka navigates a triracial identity. In these poems, having too many heritages means having no heritage at all. As a result, cultural identifiers—be they afros, war paint, or William Shatner—take the place of identity. Vibrant narrative lyrics use image as riff, syllable as note, to improvise on a ...

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Overview

Using musical allusion and metaphor, juxtaposing history and autobiography, Matejka navigates a triracial identity. In these poems, having too many heritages means having no heritage at all. As a result, cultural identifiers—be they afros, war paint, or William Shatner—take the place of identity. Vibrant narrative lyrics use image as riff, syllable as note, to improvise on a personal history severed from tradition.

Betwixt and Between

Miscegenation’s capitol is the mule. Not quite horse,
almost donkey. No useful erection to speak of.
In any unnatural concoction,
somebody’s got to take the blame. Freud would say credit the mother if props are necessary.
Mulattos
are human mules—half black, most times more than half white—misogynous
on a good day. All the while,
impotent between tribes.
Blame: gift of the exotic,
like Hendrix opening for the Monkees, or Othello key holed by Iago. Blessed be he with the hybrid vigor of melanin, arrested between
the sun and the sun.

"Reading Adrian Matejka’s amazing debut, I was left with the feeling that American Poetry was at last beginning to catch up with early twenty-first century American life. He has written the first serious songs from a world that’s about to make itself felt and known."—Cornelius Eady

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Using jazz and blues rhythms with telling allusions to Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and Billie Holiday, Matejka fashions a powerful autobiography in verse in this debut collection. Matejka's theme is the devilish perversity of a white society that leaves him anguished to the point of crying in his "own vomit." He is victimized because of his biracial background: by a white man with a shotgun, a Puerto Rican playmate with a lethal fist, and a man who wants to hang him with a rope. He is further damaged by the acrimonious separation of his black father and white mother and by the abortion of his own child, "a cataract/ of misplaced blood." What redeems Matejka are visionary moments when a jazz trumpeter becomes a "fist of glitter punched up/ through the stage," or when common crows appear to "tap-dance landscapes." Highly recommended for all larger collections.-Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882295418
  • Publisher: Alice James Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Autobiography as Language 3
English B 5
Want 6
Crap Shoot 8
Paris, Texas (1954) 9
To Have This 11
The History of Bad Luck 13
The Devil's Garden 14
The Meaning of Rpms 15
Ode to Eddie Hazel 16
Obligatory Mingus 18
Earth Will Seduce You 19
Her Gardens 21
Pigment 25
Conjugating Opposites 28
The Official Story 29
Me in The Garden of Music 30
Ankle-Deep in Ocean 32
Home Remedies 33
What He Wanted to Say 34
Preacher (1942) 35
Genealogy of Insomnia 37
For What It's Worth 39
Integration 41
Eight Positions Mistaken as Love 43
Understanding Al Green 47
Contrafact (of an Ars Poetica) 49
Betwixt and Between 51
To the Miscarried Child 52
Con Leche 53
Miles Runs the Voodoo Down 54
Insect Precipitate and Saltwater 56
Klimt in Chicago 57
Government Magic 61
Memento 62
White Pages 63
Peace and Soul 64
Vinyl 66
Visions of Max Roach 67
Postlude 69
Notes 70
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