Undoing the Hide's Taut Musculature
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About the Author
In this ambitious and deeply intelligent debut, Matthew Baker opens his world by telling us he "was born to the faux fur of backseats," and I doubt any reader anywhere will be able to stop reading until the very last line. Risky and transcendent, these are poems of a place where "smoke [becomes] the shape of men"; these are poems of mother love in a voice that weaves the mother "into a hundred hollow myths"; these are poems of grief for what's lost and desire for what's still promised, a world where a wound "almost sizzles in the rush of air." Baker's ear is well-tuned, his eye ever observant of the salient details, those we need to come to some understanding of what it means to be loved, but ultimately alone. And Baker captures us through his ability to stretch a metaphor to its utter tautness, to work a sonnet crown masterfully, to tell us a story worth hearing--a story we need to hear in all its necessary music. Welcome Matthew Baker. Invite him in.
Gailmarie Pahmeier, Reno Poet Laureate, Emerita, Author of The Rural Lives of Nice Girls
Matt Baker is a clear-eyed and fearless poet, one who is willing to dissect even the most intimate of relationships and uncover the deep psychological truths beneath our daily veneer of politeness. Whether he's writing about family, the body, the social-political world, or the hidden complexities of childhood, Baker writes with a morally exacting intelligence, one that demands truth over sentiment. Many of his poems are interested in enacting the various ways our connections to others are fraught and fraudulent, fraying or completely unsustainable. But rather than seeming gloomy or downtrodden, Baker's poems remind us that the willingness to unearth the true self is always the consolation. Be warned, reader: these poems will lure you into their deep interiors and transform you.
Steve Gehrke, Author of Michelangelo's Seizure