BOOKS / TRADE COLLECTIONS
(Gaspereau Press: Kentville, 2016)
ISBN – 10: 1554471638 / ISBN-13: 9781554471638
Matt Robinson is in the best sense a poet of the domestic, his intense curiosity animating a renewed engagement with things familiar–the intellectual life of the family dog, a favourite pair of jeans, sports, local landmarks and relationships. In these poems, Robinson approaches each subject with vivid imagery and the intellectual terseness of a logical proposition, playfully reminding us of the “uneven arithmetic” that invigorates poetic language.
(ECW Press: Toronto, 2010)
ISBN – 10: 155022915X / ISBN – 13: 9781550229158
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. These are poems, at their cores, 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. It is, as noted by the Malahat Prize judges, “a lean sweep of blues variations.” “Knotty and slow, with a latent violence that is continuously courted and undermined,” this poem is a kind of “phenomenological trance,” one in which “the reader lunges along with matt robinson’s taut exploratory rhythms, his tantalizing speed, with his painstaking attention to line and phrasing.” Indeed, “in language that is dynamic, palpable, and almost dangerous, ‘angle’ recalibrates our being in the world, ‘and topples / stacks of // whatever might not be nailed tightly down.’ ” 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 mediation on what a city can both say to and about us, toeing the slack-roped narrows uses some of Halifax’s most and least famous places and spaces as jumping off points for a stop-and-start lyrical reality 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.”
(ECW Press: Toronto, 2005)
The legendary Terry Sawchuk is said to have kept parts of himself in jars: one for teeth, one for bone chips, and another for his appendix. no cage contains a stare that well is jarring in much the same way. Each poem in this collection is a self-contained vessel in which a distinct bit of our national game – a player or a fight, a save or a goal, an injury or a regret – is preserved; mementos cross-cut into countless sheets of ice. Often dark and brooding, this book offers a league of gloomy characters: a spiteful Zamboni driver and a nearly blinded beer-leaguer; a maimed minor-hockey coach and that over-bearing hockey dad you’ve heard in the rink. These are poems about hockey – shifting their way through the game, its characters, images, and passions. no cage contains a stare that well is like an impossible glove save in overtime – exulting in the game while examining the darker, musty corners of its locker rooms. But these poems speak to life off-ice as well: to how we know what we know, how we feel what we feel, and how we win or lose.
(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.”
(Insomniac Press: Toronto, 2000)
A Ruckus of Awkward Stacking is about memory — memory as a poetic form through which refractions of loss, recovery, discovery and identity form an imaginative reshaping of the past. In raw brushstrokes, Robinson records the slow cascade of events and characters slipping through the thin membrane of experience, shaping our histories. At the same time, he experiments with style and form in a wonderfully sinuous writing. With this, his first book, Robinson makes a staggering debut on the North American literary stage.
SHORTLISTED for the Gerald Lampert Award and the ReLit Award for Poetry.
(Gaspereau Press: Kentville, NS, 2013)
The Devil’s Whim Occasional Chapbook Series: No. 27
…the appearance of his a fist made and then un-made (Gaspereau Press, 2013), produced as #27 of Gaspereau’s “Devil’s Whim” chapbook series, is worth noting. … The ten poems that make up robinson’s a fist made and then made continue his blend of formal lyric, descriptive sketch and open-ended accumulation (as well as his continuing subject matter of sports, which appears far less often as the subject matter in really strong Canadian poems than you might think). The poems might be short, but they’re packed with a descriptive patter rich to the point of appearing as a multitude. (rob mclennan on rob mclennan’s Lit Blog)
SHORTLISTED for the 2014 bpNichol Chapbook Award.
(Greenboathouse Press: Vernon, BC, 2009)
It could be said of Matt Robinson’s Against the Hard Angle that truth bends around its object. The poems are direct but leave the reader with a sense that something is unspoken. Spoiled milk, congealed blood from an injury, a workbench. Just when you might think these poems are parochial, Robinson writes of a delay in an airport. There is a range of subject-matter and a range of experience in these poems. And in their understatement, Robinson’s poems feel contemporary. Objects are used to hint at human relationships, relationships perhaps difficult to discuss, haunted by an unspoken pessimism. Everything in here is more than it seems.
The text is hand-set in 14pt Spectrum, with display type printed from polymer. Page stock is Magnani Velata, with a wrapper of handmade cotton by Reg Lissel in Vancouver. Text printed letterpress in 2 colours throughout.
(Frog Hollow Press: Victoria, BC, 2004)
tracery & interplay features linked poems about hockey by matt robinson, a young poet from the Maritimes. matt has spent his life playing hockey, from the pre-school street games to his first foray onto ice when he was in Grade Three. By the time he tended goal, substituting for the team goalie who trooped off to Florida for March break, matt was hooked. This passion for the game has lasted through high school and university, where he played intramural ice hockey at both Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. This passion for hockey shows through in every line of the poems contained in tracery & interplay.
The Heart is Improvisational (Guernica Editions, forthcoming)
MESS: The Hospital Anthology (Tightrope Books, 2014)
The New Canon (Vehicule Press, 2005)
Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets (Nightwood Editions, 2004)
To Find Us: Words & Images of Halifax (HRM, 2004)
Exact Fare Only 2 (Anvil Press, 2004)
Literature: A Pocket Anthology, 1st Canadian Edition (Pearson Canada, 2004)
Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, 1st Canadian Edition (Pearson Canada, 2004)
(Some from) Diagram: Selections from the Magazine & More (Del Sol Press, 2003)
Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada (Goose Lane Editions, 2002)
Waging Peace: Poetry and Political Action (Penumbra Press, 2002)
Landmarks: An Anthology of New Atlantic Canadian Poetry of the Land (Acorn Press, 2001)
BROADSIDES / BROADSHEETS
Harbour (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2015; edition of 50)
Terms & Conditions (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2014; edition of 50)
february afternoon, near tampa (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2013; edition of 50)
dog (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2012; edition of 100)
the trail is a tangled plumb line (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2011; edition of 100)
cold spring song (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2010; edition of 100)
rotary; roundabout (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2009; edition of 100)
table & chairs; set (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2008; edition of 100)
hero of the play (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2007; edition of 100)
heart (printed by Gaspereau Press, 2006; edition of 50)
CINEPOEMS / FILMS
The Grain Elevators (with Megan Wennberg; through AFCOOP’s “A Certain Openness: The Filming of Poetry”; 2013)
SELECTED JOURNALS, MAGAZINES & NEWSPAPERS
Poetry, fiction, critical articles, and reviews have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and journals from Canada, The United States, Britain, and Australia, including:
Adbusters, Aethlon, All Rights Reserved, The Antigonish Review, Arc, ArtsEast, The Barnstormer, Black Warrior Review, Canadian Literature, Canadian Poetries, Canadian Poetry, Carleton Arts Review, CV2, The Cincinnati Review, The Cream City Review, The Dalhousie Review, Denver Quarterly, Event, Envoi, Freefall, The Fiddlehead, 4AM, The Gaspereau Review, Geist, Grain, The Harpweaver, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review, Lake Effect, Lullwater Review, The Malahat Review, The Nashwaak Review, NewPoetry.ca, The New Quarterly, Open Heart Forgery, Other Voices, Pagitica, Poetry Salzburg Review, Pottersfield Portfolio, Prairie Fire, Prism International, Puerto del Sol, Queen Street Quarterly, Queen’s Quarterly, THIS Magazine, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Westerly, Western Humanities Review, Windsor Review, Vallum, and Zygote.