With matt’s NEW collection Against the Hard Angle due out from ECW Press in April 2010, sneak previews of some poems included in the book (1 per month) have been / will be appearing here at www.mattrobinsonpoet.wordpress.com in December 2009, January 2010, February 2010, and March 2010.
Here is March 2010’s sneak peek from the forthcoming collection: a short poem called ‘perhaps you can’t go home again’ — a brief lyric that interrogates the idea of nostalgia while revisiting a Halifax park named after the guy who came up with the idea of standard time, among other things.
‘PERHAPS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN’
-The Dingle (Sir Sanford Fleming Park); Halifax, NS
standard: briefly, upon a time, once, we were —
we suspect, we guess — amazed. but now, we’re sure,
the park’s stone entryway fails fully
to impress; upon further inspection is, we might now suggest, nothing
but a small, lopsided cobble framing an asphalt-grey
tongue’s splay; some awkward uncle’s wry party smile after
one too many gin. even the scattered
smattering of metal gates slalomed further down the drive, just off the winding
road — those thresholds nearly hidden at the ends of
our tree-studded high school lovers’ lanes, those underpinnings
of each re-repeated conquest — are, in this day’s light, a slight
let-down, a disappointment. each season’s paint, the uneven slopped green
coats, just the ruddy, pock-marked cheeks
of some sudden sidewalk-seen faux starlet whose skin, up close, has gone to pot
from day after day of too much foundation, too much
exposure to the bright, brusque honesty
of stage lights, of performance. in fact, a closer look would
show these aging welds rust buttered; seaming. a briefly outstretched hand
would find the old lock boxes suspect, lichen moist, near
seeping; the simple roads we’d guessed we took once, now a maze.
The two sections that comprise matt robinson’s fourth full-length volume of poetry, Against the Hard Angle, though disparate in terms of form – the first consisting primarily of a long poem; the other a collection of shorter lyrical pieces – nonetheless share a common concern with ideas of relationship and its examination. At their core, these are poems about where we stand in relation to the rest of our various worlds.
In the collection’s opening section, the eponymous (and 2009 Malahat Review Long Poem Award winning) “against the hard angle” steadily develops a grudging momentum, all the while searching for a way to articulate loss, in the end becoming a kind of meditative catalogue of relationship breakdown and divorce.
The second section takes as its immediate subject matter a different sort of relationship altogether. Having returned home after nearly a decade elsewhere, these are poems that reference robinson’s native Halifax, NS, more specifically and vividly than in his previous work; these are lines with “the near / magical pull of some deep-seeded magnet now spinning, / we’d guess, completely / and fully out of control – a crazed, elemental / ballet.”
Part extended love song to and for a city and part meditation on what a city can both say to and about us, Against the Hard Angle uses some of Halifax’s most and least famous places as jumping off points for a stop-and-start lyrical tour of eastern Canada’s largest urban centre, a sometimes fraught journey that leaves us “all tendon-tensed, / against impact, near white-knuckled to / breakage.”