Reviewed by Jessica Harrington
So, it is a common fact amongst those that know me that I have never been a fan of poetry. I don’t have a real reason, I just never enjoyed reading or writing it. Possibly because I always thought it was so stuffy, emotional, and almost impossible to relate to. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s just how I felt. Well, until I got my hands on All-American Poem anyway. This was Matthew Dickman’s first book, and it made me a poetry fan, I know love to read and write the stuff. Partly because of this awaking it sparked in me and partly because it’s poetry month, I decided to post a review of this gem in hopes that you will be inspired to read it and become a hardcore poetry fan as well.
by Mathew Dickman
Published by American Poetry Review (APR), 2008
Matthew Dickmans’ first book All-American Poem was the recipient of the American Poem Review/ Honickman First Book Prize, and for good reason. The cover photo- a mob of people, held behind barriers, with police facing them, ready to react- is a perfect representation for what you will find in Dickmans’ poems. The longing, the raw emotions, the boredom and anger of youth all being restrained inside ourselves, not being able to fully express it and let it out for society faces us, ready to control and put an immediate stop to such behavior.
Every poem is almost cryptic, each individual line representing its own world, while the poem as a whole represents another. Love, hate, death, and life all dance together in each piece, representing the human experience in the modern world. A perfect example of this is Slow Dance, where Dickman speaks of how we need to slow dance more than anything else. It starts with this sense of hopefulness almost, that we still are able to grab the beauty and savor the truly amazing moments. This takes a turn a few lines down, talking now about having that dance with a stranger while you’re lover pulls the car around “because it began to rain and would break their heart if any part of us got wet”, yet this dance with a stranger is sexual, feeling their body, their hands upon your body, yours upon theirs; the light breath on each other’s neck. This selfishness that we all are guilty of- the lust. We are taken through the guilt as he moves on to the mistakes he’s made, yet how the slow dance doesn’t care. We have glimpses of the beauty Dickman longs for dotted with the pain he feels and tries to drown with whiskey. Dickman gives us the gift of realizing the amazing experience that is being human- making up experience life through his words, realize our own experiences, and make us think. If you are a fan of poetry and haven’t yet read this, you’re missing out and if you aren’t a poetry fan, go pick up this book and I promise you will be by the end.