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G.M. Palmer Says Matthew Dickman’s Latest Book ‘ultimately reads like a book of therapy, not poetry’
Today in lacerating poetry reviews: at the Contemporary Poetry Review, G.M. Palmer takes Matthew Dickman to task for his recent book, Mayakovsky’s Revolver, which is doing pretty well on our bestseller list. Calling it (cringe) “a mediocre work made important by personal tragedy,” referencing the suicide of Dickman’s older brother, Palmer adds, “while there is no reason to wish Mr. Dickman or his family anything but sympathies regarding their loss, one does not get a pass for poor literature because of tragic circumstances surrounding its creation.” After telling us that the first section of the book isn’t worth reading, Palmer finds some redeeming qualities in the following section. Some.
The remaining poems in “Notes Passed. . .” are not bad—and if pockmarked by unfortunate Fifty Shades of Grey-esque sexuality like “hot nipple-action” then a reader who has endured “Dear Space” is willing to forgive such lesser errors. The remaining highlights of the section not marred by a desire to be the poetic Bret Easton Ellis, circa 1990, are few. In Number 9, “The Bomb,” we “kick the body just to see how it feels, to see if a sound comes out.” Perhaps this, again, is symbolic of all Dickman is attempting with this collection—kicking the body to see what poems come out. The result is often as grotesque as the notion, but does produce a few gems, like Number 13, “Anything You Want.”
Don’t beat around the bush, Palmer. Catch the full review here.