Poetry News

Does Matthew Tierney Pull Off Scientific Poetry? The National Post Thinks So

By Harriet Staff

According to National Post writer Michael Lista, a movement of scientists-turned-poets tends to sacrifice readability for clever references, sentencing their readers, no matter how eager, to hours of Wikipedia searches. But Lista points to Tierney as an example of a former physicist whose poems don't overreach themselves:

They succeed where other science-minded poems fail because despite their erudition and dizzying range of reference, they’re still romancing the “breadth between feeling and knowing.” “What a moron the heart is,” he writes, a sentiment shared by many of the science poets whose work, for all its conceptual savvy, all too often feels bereft of feeling. But Tierney doesn’t really mean it; the line appears in the poem “Suede Spats,” a meandering meditation on the formation of the universe during a date at a ’50s-style milkshake diner. What excites Tierney isn’t the cold mechanics that brought the couple to this moment, but the pleasure it engenders, “a joy not possible / before the big bang made creation some sweet place.”

...Probably Inevitable is skeptical of, among lots of other things, the very idea of time itself, but I think chronology explains why Tierney’s poems work when others’ fail. The key is in that old bio. Tierney wasn’t flashing his chops there; he was telling us his priorities had shifted. Poetry comes first for him now.

Read the full article here.

Originally Published: October 3rd, 2012