Mayakovsky's Revolver: Poems

Mayakovsky's Revolver: Poems

by Matthew Dickman
     
 

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From a dazzling, award-winning young poet, a collection that paints life as a celebration in the dark.

At the center of Mayakovsky’s Revolver is the suicide of Matthew Dickman’s older brother. “Known for poems of universality of feeling, expressive lyricism of reflection, and heartrending allure” (Major Jackson), Dickman is a

Overview

From a dazzling, award-winning young poet, a collection that paints life as a celebration in the dark.

At the center of Mayakovsky’s Revolver is the suicide of Matthew Dickman’s older brother. “Known for poems of universality of feeling, expressive lyricism of reflection, and heartrending allure” (Major Jackson), Dickman is a powerful poet whose new collection explores how to persevere in the wake of grief.

from “Mayakovsky’s Revolver”

I keep thinking about the way
blackberries will make the mouth
of an eight year old look like he’s a ghost
that’s been shot in the face. In the dark I can see
my older brother walking through the tall brush
of his brain. I can see him standing
in the lobby of the hotel,
alone, crying along with the ice machine.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The central sequence of Dickman’s raw, frightening, well-told second collection commemorates his deceased brother, remembering their shared delinquent years, their attraction to drink and prescription drugs, and the severe mental illness that disfigured his brother’s adulthood. Around that 13-section elegy Dickman arranges other recollections of youth, lust, and strife, “my teenage mystery and finger, my skateboard and Circle Jerks album,/ all those ghosts like birds-of-paradise/ being lifted out of the dark.” Death is for Dickman’s late brother “your little love, your hot nipple-action/ of fear, a train/ in the dark before it breaks,” while the tranquilizer Halcion once seemed to the poet a necessity of life: “I can feel you melt on my tongue like a naked girl wearing a diamond/ crown, standing barefoot on a bed of ice.” Dickman’s jagged lines connect his own and his family’s self-destructive impulses to the Russian modernism of Vladimir Mayakovsky, who shot himself, and to other eminent modernists. Do not confuse the deceased brother, never named here, with Matthew’s twin Michael, also an eminent poet. Even jaded readers could be won over by the last, longest poem, in which Dickman pivots to the present, listing persuasive reasons to live. (Oct.)
NPR
“A book of real immediacy, the kind that re-enacts modern life with all its joys and sorrows.”
Vanity Fair
“His poems . . . strike at the soul.”
New Criterion
“Matthew Dickman’s poems go off like a bottle rocket.”
Library Journal
The follow-up to Dickman's 2008 debut, All-American Poem, is a tour de force of runaway grief and wanton introspection that attempts to navigate the thin line between despair and hilarity. Occasioned by a troubled brother's suicide ("his brain turned its armadas against him, wanting him to burn down/ his cities and villages"), sprawling elegies plow headlong through the poet's cluttered, quasi-surreal memory bank no matter what may surface—childhood cruelty, guilt, regret—summoning a cast of spectral characters, such as the woman with "eyes/ the color of hairspray, cloudy and sticky/ and gone, but beautiful!" Dickman's knack for trap-door humor ("I wonder if the two of us knew/ that I would grow up afraid of needles and the color white/ or that she would fall from a window"), pop social commentary ("To have two thousand/ friends on Facebook you don't know/ but stare at every night because you're lonely"), and screwball imagery ("the moon like the inside of a jawbreaker") are entertaining but wearing over the long haul. VERDICT A digressive, self-indulgent cleverness too eagerly upstages the poet's ostensibly serious subject matter, undermining what could have been an effective exploration of personal loss and redemption.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393089523
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/24/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
978,743
File size:
343 KB

Meet the Author

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem, winner of the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the coauthor with Michael Dickman of 50 American Plays. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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