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About this poet

In 1970, Matthew Rohrer was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in Oklahoma. He earned a BA from the University of Michigan, where he won a Hopwood Award for poetry, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of Iowa.

Rohrer's poetry collections include Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015), Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011), A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007), A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004), Satellite (Wave Books, 2001), and A Hummock in the Malookas (W. W. Norton, 1995), which was selected by Mary Oliver for the 1994 National Poetry Series. With Joshua Beckman, he is coauthor of Nice Hat. Thanks. (Verse Press, 2002) and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at New York University.


Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015)
Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011)
A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009)
Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007)
A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004)
Satellite (Wave Books, 2001)
A Hummock in the Malookas (W. W. Norton, 1995)


In another jungle the monkeys fret. 
Vibrations are tremendous. 
Terror begins. 
Mist dissipates. 
Monkeys alight in unison 
while beneath them nothing sexy happens. 
From within one mangrove a monkey flutters helplessly, 
another watches. 
Noise like refined alabaster drifts across our monkeys. 
Human intellect dwarfs only that first tear. 
Everything else excels. 
Intellect is nothing to savor. 
Monkeys know. 
Monkeys see. 
Monkeys do. 
As monkeys follow nauseated foresters 
across wet walkways they announce their intentions. 
Mankind savors variety. 
Monkeys savor mankind. 
Poachers came and grabbed the monkeys. 
In disturbing circumstances they thrive. 
Our satellites saw lilacs. 
No one wanders forever.

From Nice Hat. Thanks. copyright © 2002 by Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of Wave Books.

From Nice Hat. Thanks. copyright © 2002 by Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of Wave Books.

Matthew Rohrer

Matthew Rohrer

Born in 1970, Matthew Rohrer is the author of several poetry collections, including Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007), and A Hummock in the Malookas, which was selected by Mary Oliver for the 1994 National Poetry Series. 

by this poet

You called, you're on the train, on Sunday,
I have just taken a shower and await
you. Clouds are slipping in off the ocean,
but the room is gently lit by the green
shirt you gave me. I have been practicing
a new way to say hello and it is fantastic.
You were so sad: goodbye. I was so sad.
All the shops were

I believe there is something else

entirely going on but no single
person can ever know it,
so we fall in love.

It could also be true that what we use
everyday to open cans was something
much nobler, that we'll never recognize.

I believe the woman sleeping beside me


Nothing is more important to the ant
whose exoskeleton has been breached
by mushroom spores that are now
controlling his nervous system
and compelling him to climb to a high leaf
only to die and release the spores
over the whole forest
than this poem about his sad plight.