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Where a road had been by Matthew Shears

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Where a road had been Matthew Shears BlazeVOX [books]

 In Where a road had been Matt Shears enters American poetry already far to the fore, just perceptible at the limit of a strenuous, refined thinking about the dirt and destructions of new beginnings. At once super-sophisticated and an American original, Shears comes out of Gertrude Stein via the great late-20th century French thought about the constant coverings-up of language (“they were always covering up. / what they were saying, and so baroque”), and about the torsions and wipings-away, the fear and the featherings, in any attempt to arrive at (to be) the new, there “where dis-covery [is] becoming. / in a fledgling sky, with a destructible wing.” Once or twice he tantalizes the reader with the possibility that the new might actually be, despite history, a pure “yes / hosanna / hello”; but in the main, he’s a tough-minded realist. His caesuras (“they could not see, what was coming”) tug backward what goes forward; his obsessive, musical repetitions and permutations of phrase do the same, at once hollowing out what he says and struggling to say more. The final line of this brilliantly intelligent collection sums it all up:  “a heart opening /closing / breaking.”

 —Calvin Bedient

In Where a road had been, Matt Shears tenderly engages a syntax of wholeness.  Dedicated solely to the process of re-membering, this debut collection locates an aboriginal utterance, a native and loving sound that, remarkably, erases all thought of Otherness. Sense is derived, as in music, through repetitions and durations (“a market,” “an ecosystem”).  Sense is also derived narratively, via perfectly constructed parallelisms (“a wholeness, I answered”). Deeply humane, transparently humble, these poems collapse categories to expand the available reality. 

—Claudia Keelan

Matt Shears' Where a road had been is a cultural dream flood, poems located in the midst of dislocating, giving a precise sensation of our uncertain times. "Each to be written again, to be dreamed again, each one disappearing together." This is the necessary kind of flood that enriches the ground, the very ground of language, with its mesmerizing rhythms and uncanny articulations.

 —Denise Newman

"Matt Shears' gorgeous new book, Where a road had been, is gloriously multi-faceted and various, both deeply personal and deeply social.  There is so much here here:  so many versions of history, of the stories we tell ourselves.  In the permeable membrane between public and private space, Shears finds an expansive and capacious intertextuality that moves (and moves us) from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic.  Each poem becomes a lens (a language) through which we apprehend (translate) both the world / the self and the multiplicity of perception, the slipperiness of significance.  And, always, the fierce and radiant beauty.  This is a wonderful and transforming first book."

 —Donna de la Perriere

Writing in the dark, in the desert of the real, Matt Shears explores profound and necessary possibilities.  Shears moves with extraordinary grace through critique and meditation.  Few poets these days are writing poetry this brave.  This is a wonderful book.  This is a brilliant poet.

—Joseph Lease



Matt Shears was born and raised in northeast Ohio.  He graduated from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and was a Schaeffer Fellow at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.  He currently lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and daughter and their three cats. Where a road had been is his first book.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 68 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-048-4

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