Winner of the 2022 Halcyon Poetry Award
Wonder About The represents Colorado stitched by threads of the water cycle, specifically the Cache la Poudre River, explored with an intimacy and depth. Cooperman’s wordcraft serves to facilitate connections, and his words work their way through all—as the water does, and as the host of chemicals we’ve injected into it do. Voiced here is the asemic language of water with its aeonian syntax following ancient canals. Wonder About The is, perhaps, rhetoric in its best definition, in its best light; forthright—but not polemically, not contentious, but pressing light against contention—to undermine, to cleanse. These words are a plow which the rain follows.
—David Anthony Martin, author of The Ground Nest, Bijoux and others
Mathew Cooperman’s Wonder About The succeeds superbly in the great challenge of eco-poetry, i.e. the question of presenting—given the claim that in writing “exposition is death”—information through poetic means. It’s a daunting challenge and it’s clear from the prefatory “Thesis” to its closing “Whose ditches these are” with its echo of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods …” that Cooperman has personally experienced the beauties of the water systems not only of northern Colorado but by implication the whole earth and has found the poetic means through repetition and variation to sing the river’s boundless beauties and to ruefully embody the cruel ironies of how it is damaged. In one poem he borrows the format of a weather report where “a chance of scattered acids/will be spraying down roads,” showing the unconscious way that environmental damage is done, in a hardly noticeable never mind reprehensible way. The result of Cooperman’s masterful touch is that the reader feels both the love and the heartbreaking threat to a pristine wild and scenic river and the plant and animal lives it sustains.
—Bill Tremblay, author of Walks Along the Ditch
“Water is wise,” Matthew Cooperman writes, and his luminous book of poems, Wonder About The, generously bears forth this wisdom. Wonder About The is a work of revelatory ecopoetic wonder, a deep and flowing meditation on the Poudre River bioregion and its manifold worlds. In its expansive, intricate layering of riparian scenes and life forms, oil and gas wells, echoes of songs and poems, hydrological cycles and water scarcity, this book creates resonant space for the difficult, beautiful contradictions of our ecological present. “It rolls on / beyond us”: Wonder About The offers its readers an enduring reflection on, and celebration of, the river’s powerful sources of renewal.
—Margaret Ronda. author of For Hunger
"Water rolls through opening poem of Wonder About The, water as force and foundation but also a source for the hubris of men bent on shaping the land to their desires. Matthew Cooperman takes us through a panorama of the west in this deep look at the land and our inseparableness from it. Stunning uncaptioned landscape photographs accompany the poems, shadowed by our unavoidable realization that the ecosystems pictured remain threatened. How long will be able to see what Cooperman records as he warns us about “wet seasons going dry” and “Benzene burn[ing] the buttercup”? Quoting from sources as diverse as a fracking industry newsletter, a county commissioner, and a water department’s report, as well as Adam Smith, Whitman, Yeats and Theodore Enslin, Cooperman writes within the lineage of place-based, proto-environmental poets William Carlos Williams and Lorine Niedecker. Like Williams and Niedecker, he is a keen attendant to human and natural environments and assemblies. Part praise song, part history, part warning and part elegy, the poems in Wonder About The offer readers both a question and a vitally important command."
—Susan Briante, author of Defacing the Monument
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