Sunday, October 4, 2009

From the heap: Matthew Thorburn's Subject to Change

Every year when the new English Department GSIs move into their offices at UofM they purge the books left behind by the previous occupant. I snagged Matthew Thorburn's Subject to Change from the discard pile. And what a lucky find it turned out to be.

Before I share with you part of a really fantastic poem in Subject to Change, let me first say I am not at all surprised that this book was tossed out. Just look at the cover. I know, I know. Never judge a book by its cover and all, but, really, that's bullshit. The cover of Subject to Change looks like it belongs on a corporate management seminar binder from 1991 rather than a book of poems published in 2004. It doesn't at all do the work inside any justice. What is it with bad graphic design and books of poetry? I would like to stage an intervention.

In any case, Thorburn is a UofM grad and a former Hopwood award winner. Subject to Change is a book worth reading, even if the title really should have been instructions intended for the art department at New Issues press.

"The River" is a longer sequence in the book's second section. The whole thing is awesome. Here's the first part.
from The River

He calls his wife by an ex-girlfriend's name,
mismouthing Christy
when he should have said Kristen.
It unravels from there...

The clouds pass quickly across the moon tonight
like the accumulation of little hurts

they carry between them. The bright-colored
foolish pony show of loving,
he thinks,
as each embarrassment we're saddled with
is led out by the reins to circle round and remind us.
You, they whinny, you fucked up.

1 comment:

Matthew Thorburn said...

Hi D'Anne,
Thanks for rescuing my book. (And shame on whoever left it behind!) I'm happy you like it -- and glad to be in touch with another Umich poet.