Black Ocean, 2011
The poems in Matthew Henriksen's first collection are
jarring, provocative, and unflinchingly sensory. Henriksen
writes, "I do not dream. I just / watch fields burn, or ride."
In his praise of the book, Tony Tost asks, "What rough age
has bore us, I wonder, that we so need Matthew Henriksen's
cruel kind of song?" Indeed, there is a violence that persists as
an undercurrent for even the most beautiful of images in the
collection—a clear indication that Henriksen is not interested
in writing beauty simply for beauty's sake. The lack of an
obvious traumatic event in the narrative means that every
image or experience in the collection is multilayered; joy and
sadness in Henriksen's poems are inextricably linked. From
the long poem "The New Surrealism,"
I am a blink as blank as the caught fish
its eye, or the stones turning always
I'm a hive blinding inward, and I'm fire
cast through the eyes.
When I look, I see nothing, and when I
turn away, I find,
for example, the dumpster behind
the hospital, the asters on the lawn.