By Matthew Rohrer
Publication Date: April 1, 2007
ISBN# 9781933517186 (5.75x8.5 80pp, paper)
ISBN# 9781933517193 (5.75x8.5 80pp, cloth)
Rohrer turns wide eyes and lyric wit toward the requirements of fatherhood, citizenship, and romantic love.
Approaching pleasure and terror with the same searching and determined curiosity, Rise Up traverses political, natural, and domestic landscapes with gentle agility. Beautifully crafted surfaces give way to sincere depth.
Hip, humorous, ironic, winking and deceptively footloose, the 17 stylish poems and sequences of Rohrer’s fifth collection take a skewed look at the politics and passages of contemporary life. Written in jagged columns, these free verse poems weave their way in and out of public and personal spheres, always careful -sometimes overly so-to keep the reader at a playful distance. Surreal details (“Money burrows/ its way to the very core/ of the Earth”) meet political protestations (“In the president’s dream... / .../ I do not kill him./ Even in his own dream I do not shake his hand”) in poems that take a fittingly indignant stance on an era when so much is wrong that it seems difficult to pinpoint anything. Rohrer (A Green Light) is also capable of great tenderness: “You were so sad: goodbye: I was so sad.” The book also maintains an abiding fascination with 19th-century poets, with references to Claire, Shelley and Coleridge, among others (“I think I hear one of Keats’ short poems”), who hang in the background of Rohrer’s laid-back romanticism. There’s a certain slacker mentality to these poems, which is both off-putting and appealing. Whatever one thinks, these poems are often startlingly accurate representations of their times.
The poems in Rise Up are serious and well-crafted, but also funny and fresh, exhibiting a playfulness he’s shown in previous collections. Rohrer proves himself a master of Stanley Kunitz’s advice to end on an image and not explain it, letting the image explain itself. Again and again, he ends on images simultaneously cryptic and perfectly fitting, like a poetry gymnast sticking landing after landing.
Kathleen Rooney, Open Letters
Matthew Rohrer’s fourth solo book, is a gathering of poems presented in a nonchalant, softly comic voice. The speaker often seems to be an acutely observing bystander -- “police / throughout the city wearing / new pants, with cargo pockets / because of the increased threat / it was important to stress.” The stance of the poems is more surreal than emotional, but Mr. Rohrer embraces his environment with lovely imagery. “Bring blue milk home from / the corner where they / bottle the day.” And his desire to be kind rises often, as when he writes, “Ellen / I say slowly, I’m sure you will succeed / in your endeavors. Those are / not the words I planned to say. / I was still awakening from a dream of the distant war.”
Open Books: A Poem Emporium, The Goods
The poet is ever trying to shove away that darkness, or at least to ride it out in the corner bagel place until the black clouds pass. As a document of love in the time of colic, Rise Up succeeds wholeheartedly. The surrealistic flourishes of the past are not missed, or are honed to absolute sharpness (“the room is gently lit by the green / shirt you gave me,” from “Poem”). There’s a wealth of real feeling here buttressed by a strong sense that the poems really matter to the poet. He should never have to apologize for any of it.
David Sewell, Coldfront Magazine
Matthew Rohrer is the author of Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011), A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007) and A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004), which was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Satellite (Verse Press, 2001), and co-author, with Joshua Beckman, of Nice Hat. Thanks. (Verse Press, 2002), and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Next Big Thing. His first book, A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Oliver in 1994. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at NYU.
$14.00 Free Shipping