how we play at it: a list
(ECW Press: Toronto, 2002)
One of the most compelling new Canadian voices.
“at first: the suspension of / disbelief. then, comparison — the compulsion // to equate it”: Adam and Eve, hockey sticks and baseball games, the hairbrushes the dead leave behind, photographs and stains on the carpet, love in filthy apartments, someone’s cat hit by a car.
Matt Robinson’s second collection of poetry catalogues the bits and pieces, the art and artefacts, the acts and atrocities that make up the living of lives. In poems whose images and metaphors weave into and around each other, how we play at it: a list articulates and exposes — at times even interrogates — how it is we “play” about our days. Grief; the epic stories and everyday myths we create and tell; the interaction of fathers and sons; the games we season our time with, the battles we wage; how, who, and what we love: all these appear as “a million dark spots — all // those shadows — strobe-dancing, cutting across” the page. These are poems engaged with the personal, colloquial, and the more lyrically metaphoric aspects of language. Through a highly controlled use of the couplet and single line, employing a diction and syntax at times flowing and at others jagged, they seek to reflect some of the intra- and inter-personal dynamics that are — that might be or at least help move towards an understanding of — ‘it’; it is a swirling, explosive mixture of “an idea, some conjecture or / philosophy” and the “orchestrations of your arms. the guttural music: song.”