Ideas from Meg Matich’s Poems

While reading Matich’s poems, these were some recurring words and themes that came to mind:

“Underpurposed,” actually a word from Sanctuary, Appalachia, but the idea of things out of use, untouched, neglected recurs in Piano and FF (“marquetry verdigris’d/on clinquant gadgets”). Also words like “miraculously old” (J), “brittles” (W), “petrified” (M), and “fossils” (N).

Violence; the natural world is dynamic and forceful. “cliffs/crumbling” (V), water pushing up against the ice until it’s forced apart (U), ice brittle and cracked “from years/of bracing/in a fist” (W).

Avalanches (F) and volcanic activity (R) are two of the violent natural events mentioned in these poems. (Left: http://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/31/magazine/avalanche-school-heidi-julavits.html. Right: http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/geophysics/science-underwater-volcanoes-long-term-climate-02473.html)

I also read a theme of a resistance or impasse, almost as an opposite to the violence and motion in a couple of these poems. Widerruf especially, with its waiting, its “gaps,” and a need for resolution; “widerruf” also means “revocation,” which implies a loss, resistance, and a pause (e.g. if your license is revoked, you stop driving). That inertia also appears in G (the arctic fox one); I think of a fox leaping in and out of the snow, and there’s a little pause between each bound where an effort must be made to escape the drift. The word “stiffen” also contributes to that sense of stuck-ness.

Matich’s poems also share a compact, narrow form. They have short lines, and the longer poems extend downwards like icicles or fissures. Because these poems are so compact, it’s possible to leave a lot of negative space on the page when printing them, which would play into the wide, spatial motif that runs through many of these poems.

On the other hand, some of these poems feel more claustrophobic: the “small sky” of poem H, and the cramped space inside a crabapple tree in Q, for example. We might treat the space of the page differently for these, and create a contrast between the spacious poems and the pressurized ones, or we might leave the emptiness, emphasizing extremes in a single poem. (What if there was a box around one of these poems? There might still be an expanse of empty page, but the text could be cramped). The way the space of each page is designed will be an important and exciting consideration in printing these poems.

Works Cited

Julavits, Heidi. “What I Learned in Avalanche School.” The New York Times, Feb. 18 2021, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/31/magazine/avalanche-school-heidi-julavits.html. Accessed Nov. 9 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Austere (W).” 2021

Matich, Meg. “Cold (F).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (G).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (H).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (J).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (Q).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “FF.” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Kiln (Ridge) (R).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Piano (Y).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Sanctuary, Appalachia (B).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Solarium (U).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Settler (M).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Settler (N).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Tíbrá (V).” 2021.

“Underwater Volcanoes Play Role in Long-Term Climate.” Sci News, Feb. 7 2015, http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/geophysics/science-underwater-volcanoes-long-term-climate-02473.html. Accessed Nov. 9 2021.

1 thought on “Ideas from Meg Matich’s Poems”

  1. I think it’s interesting how Matich writes about space. Some of it about such small and claustrophobic spaces like you mentioned. And then some being small because everything else around is so huge, which she references in lots of imagery of space and the sky.

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