Both carefully observed and daringly philosophical . . . The cosmos aches, as it did for Orpheus and for Gilgamesh, and as it did for Eve.
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IN ACCELERATED SILENCE
“Brooke Matson’s In Accelerated Silence begins with an ode addressed to dark matter; she’s ‘relieved / you’re here to hold the aching / stars apart.’ The cosmos aches, as it did for Orpheus and for Gilgamesh, because the beloved has been lost, and as it did for Eve, once she could see that every living thing was mortal. Matson mourns the loss of an irreplaceable other, but the person who speaks to us in these poems seems almost to multiply and blur into alternate dimensions, admitting the losses of many. Inclusive, generous, both carefully observed and daringly philosophical, these poems reconfigure the elegy for this moment, praying to the ‘Dear wild unknown’ to ‘tow the borders of this universe far beyond our grasp.’”
“Using the idioms of biology, chemistry, physics, and astrophysics, Brooke Matson composes lyrics of grief and beauty where death is the ‘nameless blade / that strips us into wavelengths.’ Line after line, we feel the poet’s rage and power: ‘If I could have plucked you / like a mussel from your shell, / I would have swallowed you whole.’ But grief is never far from wonder here―and a profound, near-erotic reverence for the sensual, living world, where ‘there [are] spaces inside us / that ache toward light.’ For anyone who as ever mourned deeply and loved fiercely, this is your book.”
“These are poems of the beloved, poems of loss, poems of the body in its many reds: red of the heart, red of muscle, red of wounds. Matson writes, ‘Understand: / anything can be red, / usually when someone or / something splits open.’ Here, eating a pomegranate is ‘like smashing a chest of rubies’; red giants are ‘stars smoldering / at the end of their lives.’ These are gorgeous meditations on love and the ‘flexible tissue’ of time―so much of one, not enough of the other. I gladly let In Accelerated Silence split me open, and a strange thing happened―it stitched me up at the same time.”
“Devastating and luminous, In Accelerated Silence inventively examines and echoes the enigma of grief. Lit by a ‘violent need to know’ why we ‘break against laws,’ this book centers a particular, personal tragedy but resonates beyond into the mysterious galaxy of mourning where we are left unmoored, like planets still orbiting the cold cavities of space where our suns used to burn.”
“Both anguished and unblinking, these poems deliver an understanding of being divided—tumor from body, self from beloved, and self from self after the fusion of passion burning hot as a megastar’s core.... Accomplished poetry that will move those who have sorrowed—that is, everyone.”
“Matson’s collection is particularly well-made, which is to say individual poems often astonish, but the arrangement of and interconnections among them make the whole vastly more than the sum of its parts. And there are a lot of moving parts to reconcile and blend, including astrophysics, the biblical Eden, and death by cancer of a beloved. In language that ranges from the sweet and susurrant to the whine of a surgical saw, Matson ties the enormity of space to the specific and personal. So skillful is she, the reader doesn’t feel the dizzying change in scale, only the speaker's wonderment, rage, or ache of memory....Matson is a generous poet as well as a virtuosic one, and her invitations to bay at the moon alongside her should be accepted with enthusiasm.”