Monday, April 28, 2014

First Spring Term Session Considers William Matthews

In the first session of the spring term, we looked at two poems by William Matthews (1942-1997), a poet with a North Carolina. connection. In "Clearwater Beach, Fla." the poet is looking back on a family vacation. The poem is partly about Florida--the scenery "another language," including :"topknotted bromeliads, and the jellyfish like clouds of clear brains trailing rain..." But it seems mostly about being a very precocious eight-year-old, observing and describing a new world.

"Directions" is a more complex poem. It is two very different poems, depending on whether you think there are two or three people in the cast. If two (the narrator and the local), then it is a meditation on place. But we heard the opinion that Matthews requires rereading, and so, on reflection, I am drawn to the notion that there is an additional person, who is together with the narrator, and that the poem is about relationships.

Next week we will read pieces by Barbara Ras and Stephen Burt that begin as nature poems.