Things We Don't Know We Don't Know
"Whether turning his attention to kiwifruit, "Wild Kingdom's" Marlin Perkins, the Strategic Air Command Museum, or lovers who with luck may come to resemble a no-expiration-date snack cake, Mason sheds some of his Nebraskan light on our universally human proceedings." --David Clewell, author of "Now We're Getting Somewhere."
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Several years ago my dad sent me some of Matt Mason's cow poems (available at http://www.roguescholars.com/faustian.html scroll down to "Martyrdom of the Cows"). I was charmed -- who wouldn't be -- by Mason's ability to conjure major themes and potent imagery out of cows shot on freeways, cows tumbling into fault crevices, cows escaping from slaughterhouses, cows turned into billions and billions of burgers. One poem from the cow cycle -- "The Funny Poet Renounces Funny Poetry And Concentrates On Making The World A Better, More Beautiful Place (In Which He Has Sex More Often)" -- is featured in this collection; its title really captures a lot about Mason's poetry. He is funny, but also passionately political. His language can be piercingly beautiful. His love poems can be devastatingly sexy. I loved "Wood," "Melodrama of A Poet Watching the Sky for Storms" and "Love in a Drought Year" most of all, but nearly every poem had a phrase or a line or an image in it that made me smile or gave me a twinge of sadness. Mason is a long-time slam poet and one can tell: these poems are very much in the vernacular, begging to be heard rather than just read. Maybe some day I'll get to hear him perform in person; in the meantime, perhaps I'll work on memorizing some of his work myself.