Monday, December 8, 2008

Matt Rader's "Living Things"

Matt Rader's Living Things was a delight to read. What's most important is that it's a delight on a first read because of the arranged music, as well as on repeated readings because of its suggestiveness and connections.

It was also a delight because of its surprise: I'd read his first collection, Miraculous Hours, with only moderate interest. Aside from the imaginative title piece, much of the rest of the volume was a personal reminiscence that didn't transform its particulars. And the diction and tone was often pedestrian.

What that tells me is that Rader is a serious practitioner. He probably incorporated, humbly, the lessons from that first effort, and worked hard at adding music, colour, tone, variation, other-voiced perspective (the first-person tree manifestos are ravishing), and stylistic wrinkles into his repertoire.

Often, a plaudit is used that "this first book is remarkable for its maturity", and I find it just as often to be an overblown assessment. Not enough is made of the remarkable progression of some poets. Since Rader's excellent second effort vaults his first so dramatically, I anticipate his next with great interest.

1 comment:

Zachariah Wells said...

Fully agree with you on this one, Brian. I think Matt is conscious of it too, as indicated by the first poem in LT being titled "The Great Leap Forward." We've got a lot to look forward to from him, I figure.