Book 47: All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman

A friend in the program sent me a few of Dickman’s poems in August and I promptly fell in love with his style. Poetry is such a significantly sized genre – there are hundreds or thousands of us, each with different strengths; Dickman’s strength is deeply rooted in his absurdity and originality.

Dickman’s style is incredibly unique; one minute he’s being completely absurd (in an all too admirable way), the next he’s making a profound statement. Every poem reads casually and organically, like a stream of consciousness in some places, but with more focus than I can muster in my own mind. He uses simile and metaphor to conjure surreal images in every poem.

The collection is broken up into 3 parts, unnamed and unspecified as far as subject matter goes. It’s a fairly short book, just 85 pages, but packed with long and thought-provoking poetry.  

The title stands out to me quite a bit with this work; All-American Poem evokes such a unique and fitting image. Multiple poems draw on the concept of America, and I quite like the many facets that Dickman pulls into play.

My favorites in the collection were “Love,” “The Black Album,” “Byron Loves Me,” “Thanksgiving Poem,” “Country Music,” Grief,” “Trouble,” “American Standard,” “American Studies,” “Lucky Number,” and “The World is Too Huge to Grasp.” I had an issue with the use of a transphobic slur in the title poem, though it was good as a whole; it also encompassed a few lines from other poems, which I thought was an interesting nod to poets that Dickman liked. “American Studies” contains a racial slur.

I give the book a 9/10.

All-American Poem (APR Honickman 1st Book Prize)

Happy reading,
Scarlett

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