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Wonder About The

by Matthew Cooperman


80 pp

ISBN: 978-1-957483-08-5


Winner of the 2022 Halcyon Poetry Award

Benzene Burns the Buttercup:

a review of Matthew Cooperman's Wonder About The

by David Anthony Martin


In Wonder About The we find a remedy to a line by William Carlos Williams, referenced within the work itself: "Who because they neither know their sources nor the sills / of their disappointments walk outside their bodies aimlessly". Cooperman's collection is an answer to the implied question in those lines, and knowing "there is thirst in asking", we are quenched with the answer that there is a "privilege in imagination/ this arrogance/ this use of water". Wonder About The contains the lyric and the somatic, and has the "nose of place" firmly planted in the prehistoric and contemporary territory, or body, of the American west. Cycles of water & life, rock, soil, rivers, cities & grain "alfalfa, sorghum and wheat", presented through the great body of time.


This collection represents Colorado stitched by threads of the water cycle, explored with an intimacy and depth that penetrates both substrata and cell walls and which pushes the interdisciplinary boundaries of poetry to shine light on interconnectedness, interpenetration; oneness as ubiquitous as a hyperobject, "all honing and hum / we are from / a great ball / we're standing within". Cooperman's working of words serve to facilitate connections, and his words work their way through all, as the water does, as the host of chemicals (phenol, arsenic, benzene, xylene, toluene, ethyl) we've produced and injected into the system do. Voiced here is the asemic language of water with its aeonian syntax following ancient canals "arterial and flush" re-membered by the mind, seeping through the body and its "thyroidal currents/ gone astray awry". Here we have the hydrosphere as commons, a shared flow through us "what / we eat, drink, breathe", an "Arterial labor to / thread one earth life to the next". 


The poet can be seen as "the letter animal at night" or a "lonely noun making / its way", out beyond the "sulphurous glow/ a Walmart parking lot", where the green John Deere tractor is a part of "the field's design" because the poet knows that, "feral, or otherwise, things tend to move around" and as an inquisitive mind, "went to the wells to see what he could find".


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. Parental lament speaks, in wonderings about "which river / which river winds to your sea?" as we awaken to the knowledge that "what surrounds us      surrounds / us     becomes us larger". A brilliant defiance refines the dialectic: "inform the shareholders/ what we share we hold".  In these poems which hammer "history's ditch to hungry mouths", we see the precipice our children inhabit and inherit "our children— / our desperate thirsts / our raveling threads / our children". 


These words are a plow which the rain follows. 

Matthew Cooperman is the author of, most recently, NOS (disorder, not otherwise specified), w/Aby Kaupang, (Futurepoem, 2018), as well as Spool, winner of the New Measure Prize (Free Verse Editions, 2016), the text + image collaboration Imago for the Fallen World, w/Marius Lehene (Jaded Ibis, 2013), Still: of the Earth as the Ark which Does Not Move (Counterpath, 2011) and other books. A Poetry Editor for Colorado Review, and Professor of English at Colorado State University, he lives in Fort Collins with his wife, the poet Aby Kaupang, and their two children.

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