Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Miraculous Hours, Matt Rader's d├ębut collection of poems - an extraordinary rendering of a poor rural Canadian backwoods childhood - takes place in a remembered world of poverty-stricken backyards, trucks, porches, creeks, swamps, and badlands, seething with menace, defilement and asphyxiation. Tyres are spent, windows fogged up, cars rusted, ants dismembered, cats flayed, girls raped and murdered, stolen armchairs sink into the earth - while the kids run wild, get wet, have accidents, get high, get drunk, get uncomfortably sexy and learn to smoke in a 'damp and mildewed inner dark' while somewhere in the background the exhausted mother is giving birth and Dad curses the 'corroded flashlight batteries'.

The book is divided into sections, beginning with "Prologue" - in which the poet has the reader witnessing his somewhat histrionic - but in poetic terms - strangely successful act of hammering a six-inch spike into the wall above his desk and slightly injuring his hand in the process: 'The walls are ready to talk.'

What follows is "Exodus": a bunch of lushly lyrical poems evoking the poet's own birth, friendships formed in acts of cruelty to animals, childhood acts of pyromania, taking pinches of his father's ashes and hanging around in the woods, exploring fearful things, committing acts of daring and coming to harm. There are also some very fine animal poems: "Pike" is one:

Jut-jawed, thorn-toothed,
hook-crazed as a lost boot. What purchase holds you

now, noosed in a knot of water, draws me deeper
to sleep and follow -

and "Robin":

How Yah Doon? - Blogged