William Matthews
These essays reveal the poet's fascination with the relationship between language and emotional life


"In my early poems, like 'Moving,' time is like a lens opening and slicing shut. If I imagined something emblematic, in significant posture, I could get a good picture. The method was good for the bases loaded, 3-and-0, none out; the strain on the pitcher's face tells all. But little of life organizes itself into symbolic moments. And symbolic moments may distort as much as they summarize; indeed, they may distort by summarizing. There are after all times when a pitcher has to live with having lost, as I would not allow myself to do when I was young, bending my private world as easily as water seems to bend light."
---William Matthews

The essays in this collection range in subject from poetry to travel to jazz and reveal William Matthews's fascination with the relationship between language and emotional life.

Look Inside


Long Shadows     1
Dull Subjects     20
Lines     32
Anita O'Day and I     38
Richard Hugo and Detective Fiction     39
Merida, 1969     51
On Stanley Plumly's Summer Celestial     55
Dishonesty and Bad Manners     65
Cameo Roles     70
Horatian Hecht     73
Moving Around     89
On the Tennis Court at Night     100
Personal and Impersonal     109
Billie Holiday and Lester Young on "Me, Myself, and I"     113
The Continuity of James Wright's Poems     117
Ignorance     132
Wagoner, Hugo, and Levine     144
Travel     158
A Poet's Alphabet     165

Product Details

  • 5-1/4 x 8.
  • 172pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1990
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06388-8

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  • $21.95 U.S.