This month we welcome back long-time contributor to The Common, John Matthias. His poems previously published by the magazine can be found here.
John Matthias has published some thirty-five books of poetry, translation, scholarship, criticism, and collaboration. He taught for many years at the University of Notre Dame and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Until 2012 he was poetry editor of Notre Dame Review, and is now Editor at Large. Shearsman published his Collected Poems in three volumes in 2011, 2012, and 2013. More recently, they have published a new volume of poems, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro, and a collection of memoirs and literary essays, At Large (both 2016). His most recent book is a collaboration with printmaker Jean Dibble and critic Robert Archambeau, Revolutions (Dos Madres, 2017). Two collections of critical essays have been published on Matthias’s work, Word Play Place, edited by Robert Archambeau, and The Salt Companion to John Matthias, edited by Joe Francis Doerr. “Prynne and a Petoskey Stone” is part of a new book now taking shape, which will be called Acoustic Shadows.
This month we welcome back one of the most crucial and distinctive Anglophone poets, Lawrence Joseph, whose sixth collection, So Where Are We?, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August. “In One Day’s Annals” appears in this book, as does “In That City, in Those Circles,” first published in issue #10 of The Common. Joseph is also the author of two books of prose, the genre-defying Lawyerland (FSG), as well as The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose, from the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry Series, which presents Joseph’s estimable talents as an essayist and critic.
Those are traffic lights. They help stop people from
driving into each other. That’s a crescent moon and star
on top of that building. It means the people inside are part
of The Nation. That’s a gas station. That’s a McDonald’s.
That’s a Burger King. That’s a fried fish and chicken joint.
Over the past year Vievee Francis has received well-deserved recognition for her latest collection, Forest Primeval, which won both the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award. Her previous book, Horse in the Dark, won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, and her first, Blue-Tail Fly, preceded a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Since the publication of Forest Primeval, Francis has been working on a fourth collection, and at The Common we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of presenting some of her new poems: “On Leaving the Mountains and Coming to the City I Thought I Left For Good” and “The Beauty of Boys Is” appear in Issue 13, Spring 2017, and “This Morning I Miss Such Devotion” is forthcoming in Issue 14, Fall 2017. Here is “’Moan Soft Like You Wanted Somebody Terrible,’” our Poetry Feature for the month of June.
Beneath a chalk-white winter sky,
her diamond studs gleam.
We sit parked in the Clam Shack lot, halfway
between her house and mine,
in her mother’s luxury SUV. Her alibi this time:
Christmas shopping for her mother on Newbury Street.
I’ve sent a map on wax paper–
What he loves arrayed as clumsy petals.
If it arrives,
someone will ink it in his back,
so it will go with him
like a paw stuffed in a casing,
boardwalk mojo to ward off the hail of RPG, AK,